George Karl's Greatest Moments - 1993 NBA Playoffs
From Albany, N.Y., to the Golden Gate Bridge, from Seattle to Spain, Nuggets coach George Karl has been a part of more than 2,000 professional basketball games in the NBA, CBA and Europe.
Karl, one of seven coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 regular-season games, sat down with Nuggets.com to reflect on some of his most memorable games and moments over the past 35 years.
NBA playoff games can almost be computed in dog years.
Because of the intensity and importance of each possession, postseason games are equivalent to about seven regular-season contests. Over a five-week span of the 1993 NBA Playoffs, the Seattle SuperSonics grew up before coach George Karl’s eyes.
As the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the Sonics opened the postseason against Karl Malone, John Stockton and the Utah Jazz, who had eliminated them from the playoffs a year earlier.
The Jazz were on the verge of bouncing the Sonics again, winning two of the first three games of the series before Seattle forced a decisive Game 5 with a gutsy road win in Salt Lake City. The Sonics came out flat in the series finale, scoring 30 points in the first half, but they roared back with 70 points in the second half of a 100-92 victory.
After its great escape, Seattle played a strange series against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. Five of the first six games were decided by 11 or more as the teams held serve at home, setting up an epic Game 7 in Seattle.
Just as they did against Utah two weeks earlier, the Sonics overcame a sluggish start but rally to force overtime. Shawn Kemp and Sam Perkins hit big shots in the extra session to help Seattle hold on for a 103-100 win and advance to the Western Conference finals.
Seattle’s matchup against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns was nothing short of two heavyweights trading roundhouse punches. Neither team won two games in a row in the series, which came down to Game 7 in Phoenix on June 5.
Looking at a box score 18 years later, Karl shakes his head. The Suns made a NBA record-tying 57 free throws. Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson combined to take 38 free throws, two more than the entire Sonics team, as Phoenix cruised to a 123-110 win.
“I’m not commenting on either the officiating or the number of free throws,” Karl said after the game. “But we’re a team that has to get a flow going and we never could get a flow because of all the free throws. The only rhythm to the game was walking to the free-throw line.”
After playing 19 games in 37 days, Karl and the Sonics were finally done for the season. It wouldn’t be long before they would make another extended playoff run.
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Karl launches Sonic boom in 1992
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Cleveland starts 1-19, rallies to make playoffs