The Seattle Years: Recounting George Karl's milestone wins
It's shaping up to be a December to remember for Nuggets coach George Karl.
With 999 career regular-season victories, Karl is moving toward becoming the seventh coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games. He will join Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson and Larry Brown in that exclusive club.
As the countdown continues, Nuggets.com is providing a look back at Karl’s milestone wins in his 23 NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks and, of course, the Nuggets.
This installment takes a look at wins 200, 300 and 400, which all took place while Karl was coaching the Sonics from 1992-98:
No. 200: Utilizing the reserve tank
Date: April 22, 1993
Site: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, Calif.
What happened: The Seattle SuperSonics surrendered 60 points in the first half before turning up the defense in a 100-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Sam Perkins and Eddie Johnson combined for 39 points off the bench to help Karl get his 200th career victory.
Kiki Vandeweghe played seven minutes in the game for the Clippers. While serving as Nuggets general manager nearly 12 years later, Vandeweghe hired Karl as Denver’s coach.
Epilogue: The Sonics began a streak of six consecutive seasons with at least 55 wins, and Karl made his first trip to the Western Conference finals. Seattle won two hard-fought series before falling to the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
No. 300: Sonics turn Dome into temple of doom
Date: Feb. 22, 1995
Site: Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Wash.
What happened: Displaced by renovations to Seattle Center Colesium during the 1994-95 season, the SuperSonics looked right at home in the Tacoma Dome. They built a 35-point lead after three quarters against the Minnesota Timberwolves, allowing Karl to cruise to career victory No. 300.
Epilogue: The Sonics went 32-9 at “home” in the Dome but fell to the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. “That was 82 road games. That was an interesting year,” Karl said. “I’m not sure other teams liked going to Tacoma, either. One game there was an accident on the freeway and 45 minutes before gametime, we had three players in our locker room.”
No. 400: Karl hits eject button during Seattle blowout
Date: Dec. 5, 1996
Site: Key Arena, Seattle
What happened: With his team leading the Minnesota Timberwolves 88-54 after three quarters, Karl never made it to the final buzzer. He grew frustrated with the officiating in the fourth quarter and watched the final minutes of Seattle’s 117-86 victory from the locker room.
“I got thrown out of the game because I got (upset) at Bennett Salvatore,” Karl recalled. “I remember that one. He was refereeing the scoreboard and I got mad. I said, 'I’m tired of this crap.' I snapped."
Epilogue: Coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals a year earlier, the Sonics won their second straight Pacific Division title and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before losing a tough seven-game series to the Houston Rockets.
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