In just 3 ½ seasons, Karl’s 171 wins are already the third-most by a coach in Denver’s NBA history, while his .598 winning percentage is unmatched. His run of four-straight postseason appearances is the second-longest in Nuggets history to Doug Moe’s nine-consecutive (1982-90). Denver joins Dallas, Detroit and San Antonio as the only teams in the NBA to make five-straight playoff appearances.
The 10th-winningest coach in NBA annals, Karl has amassed 879 wins in his 20 seasons in the NBA. In fact, of the nine men ahead of him on the all-time wins list, only four: Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan have a better winning percentage. He has also notched 62 career playoff victories, good for 13th all-time.
This past season, Karl guided the Nuggets to their first 50-win campaign since 1987-88, matching their third-highest win total in the team’s NBA history. In addition, Karl recorded his 16th-straight non-losing season, third only to Pat Riley (19, 1981-82 to 2001-02) and Phil Jackson (17, 1989-90-present) in NBA history.
In 2006-07, Karl led the Nuggets to a 45-37 mark, including a franchise-record 22 road wins. The Nuggets finished with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference - their highest finish since 1988-89 (sixth).
In 2005-06, Karl guided an injury-riddled Nuggets team to 44 wins and a Northwest Division title – the club’s first division crown since 1987-88. He became the fifth coach in NBA history to lead at least three different teams to division titles (also Milwaukee and Seattle).
His most remarkable accomplishment in Denver came in 2005. After assuming head coaching duties in January, he engineered one of the greatest turnarounds in NBA history. When he was hired, the Nuggets were 17-25 and stood in 11th place in the Western Conference – a full six games out of the playoffs. Karl led the Nuggets to a 32-8 (.800) record and a seventh seed in the postseason. His winning percentage is the best in NBA history for a coach that took over in the middle of the season and coached at least 20 games. The Nuggets went 25-4 after the All-Star break, notching the fifth-best post-All-Star break record ever in the NBA.
During the 2004-05 season, Karl was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for February and March and finished fifth in voting for NBA Coach of the Year. He garnered 10 first place votes despite being on the bench for just over three months. He has earned nine Coach of the Month honors tying Phil Jackson for fourth-most in NBA history.
Prior to joining the Nuggets, Karl served as head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks (1998-03), the Seattle SuperSonics (1991-98), the Golden State Warriors (1986-88) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (1984-86).
During Karl’s tenure in Seattle, the Sonics averaged 59 wins per season and won 384 games – second only to Chicago during that span. He led the Sonics to three 60-win seasons, had just one losing month and never had a losing streak longer than three games. Only three coaches have led their teams to more 60-win seasons in NBA history: Riley (seven), Jackson (six) and K.C. Jones (four).
In five seasons in Milwaukee, Karl led the Bucks to a record of 205-173 and four playoff berths, highlighted in 2001 by the team’s first trip to the conference finals since 1986.
One of the keys to Karl’s success has been putting players in positions to succeed. During his coaching career, Karl’s players have made 24 All-Star appearances, earned 13 All-NBA recognitions, made 11 All-Defensive teams and have won two Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Karl broke into coaching as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs (then in the ABA) under Nuggets coaching icon Doug Moe. He landed his first head coaching position with the Montana Golden Nuggets of the CBA in 1980 and went on to become one of the most successful coaches in that league’s history. A three-time CBA Coach of the Year (1981, ’83 and ’91), Karl compiled a 176-66 (.727) record in five CBA seasons. He led the Albany Patroons to a league-record 50-6 mark in 1990-91, including a perfect 28-0 at home. He also coached two years in Spain with Real Madrid.
In 2001, Karl was selected as the head coach of USA Basketball’s 2002 World Championship Team that competed in the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis.
As a player, Karl averaged 6.5 ppg and 3.0 apg over 264 games and five seasons between the ABA and NBA. He attended the University of North Carolina, where as a junior, he helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1972 NCAA Final Four, and during his sophomore season (1970-71), helped UNC to an NIT title.
Although 7 drafted by the New York Knicks in the fourth round of the 1973 NBA Draft, he signed with the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA.
Karl’s foundation, Friends of Hoop, annually hosts King Holiday Hoop Festivals – high school basketball tournaments held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King - in Seattle and Milwaukee.
A prostate cancer survivor, Karl is heavily involved with the American Cancer Society and the Prostate Cancer Education Council. He also has donated tickets to each home game for less fortunate families since his arrival in Denver.
He has three children – daughters Kelci and Kaci and son Coby, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. During the 2007-08 season, Coby and George became just the third father/son duo to face each other in an NBA game and the first to do so in a playoff game.