Karl takes milestone march from Seattle to Milwaukee
George Karl's coaching odometer is one victory from flipping to 1,000.
With 999 career regular-season victories, Karl is on the precipice of 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 500, 600 and 700, which took place in Karl's final season with the Sonics in 1997-98 and during his tenure in Milwaukee from 1998-2003:
No. 500: Halfway to history
Date: April 9, 1999
Site: Reunion Arena, Dallas
What happened: With Seattle charging toward the playoffs, Karl celebrated win No. 500 as the Sonics beat the Dallas Mavericks 103-101. Gary Payton led the way with 28 points and Detlef Schrempf (22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) turned in a superb all-around effort to help Seattle rally in the fourth quarter.
Epilogue: The Sonics finished 61-21 to earn the No. 2 seed in the West but fell to the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. Shaquille O’Neal scored 31 points and a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant added seven off the bench for the Lakers in the clinching game, spoiling Seattle’s season and Karl’s 47th birthday. Karl and the Sonics parted ways later that summer.
No. 600: Big 3 help Karl reach other big milestone
Date: Jan. 31, 2001
Site: Bradley Center, Milwaukee
What happened: The Big 3 of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson indeed came up big while helping Karl get his 600th win. Led by Allen’s 32 points and 11 assists, the trio combined for 80 points in a 116-111 victory over Antonio McDyess and the Nuggets.
Epilogue: The Bucks won 13 of their final 18 regular-season games and recorded their first 50-win season in 14 years. That was just for starters. The Central Division champs dispatched Orlando in the first round of the playoffs and rallied to beat Charlotte in seven games before falling to Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals.
“We were good that year. That was one of my favorite teams,” Karl said. “That was not the most talented team, but at the end of the year, we really came together and played the right way.”
No. 700: A final celebration in Milwaukee
Date: March 22, 2003
Site: Bradley Center, Milwaukee
What happened: Reunited with Payton after making a blockbuster trade-deadline deal to acquire the talentedpoint guard, Karl joined the 700 Club as Milwaukee beat the New Orleans Hornets 93-85.
Epilogue: The Bucks won just seven of their first 20 games after trading Allen to Seattle in a five-player deal on Feb. 20. Facing his first losing season since 1988, Karl rallied the troops, and Milwaukee earned a playoff berth by winning eight of its final nine games.
“Gary was great,” Karl said. “My team had a chance to give up and fold, but we made it to the playoffs.”
The Bucks went on to lose to Kenyon Martin and the New Jersey Nets in the first round, and Karl did not return as Milwaukee's coach.
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