DENVER - The Denver Nuggets have fired Coach George Karl, NBA Coach of the Year.
Sources tell 7NEWS Sports Director Lionel Bienvenu that Karl was informed Thursday morning by Nuggets president Josh Kroenke that he would not be back for the final year of his contract.
"It's a sad day for me, my staff and my family. Difficult to understand but memories are best I've ever had," Karl tweeted at 11:41 a.m. "I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home."
An NBA source told 7NEWS sports reporter Justin Adams that Karl’s firing was more than a mutual parting once the Nuggets decided against giving him a long-term contract extension.
Karl's firing comes just six days after Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri -- who won NBA Executive of the Year -- left the team to accept a five-year, $15 million contract to run the basketball operations of the Toronto Raptors.
Bienvenu said it's probably first time in history a team has had the NBA Executive and Coach of the Year both leave after the season.
Nuggets players were shocked by the firing.
"So we lost a GM now a coach what's next!" rising Nuggets' star Kenneth Faried tweeted within minutes of the news reports. The Nuggets drafted Faried with the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA draft with Ujiri and Karl at the helm of the team.
Last year’s first round draft pick, guard Evan Fournier tweeted, "Waw" after hearing the news.
Nuggets forward Quincy Miller tweeted that he was "in disbelief."
Karl was hired on Jan. 27, 2005 and led the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff appearances and a regular-season record of 423-257. He finished second in all-time Nuggets wins behind Doug Moe with 432 wins.
"George has been an instrumental part of our success over the past decade, and we appreciate everything he did to keep us among the top teams in the Western Conference," Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said.
"He is a Hall of Fame coach whose legacy in Denver will last for years to come," Kroenke added. "George is a legend in the game of basketball and I could not have more respect for him as a person and coach."
Yet fans were furious with Josh Kroenke -- and by extension his father, team owner Stan Kroenke -- over the twin losses of one of the hottest young team executives in the league and a future Hall of Fame coach.
"Well blame all on Josh.. He's young idiot who don't know how to run a team without any wingman under him," tweeted Nouri M. Marrakchi, who describes himself as "A CRAZY ALL-COLORADO SPORTS FAN!!" on his Twitter profile.
Stan Kroenke turned over the Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche to his 33-year-old son in 2010 in order to win NFL approval for the elder Kroenke to become majority owner of the St. Louis Rams.
Karl, 62, was named the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Nuggets to a team-record 57 games and the No. 3 seed in the West, but Denver lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. It was the eighth time in Karl's nine playoff appearances with Denver that the Nuggets had been ousted in the first round. In 2010 -- when Karl was battling cancer -- assistant coach Adrian Dantley lead the team during its first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.
Under Karl’s tenure, the Nuggets advanced past the first round once under Karl, reaching the Western Conference finals in 2009.
The Nuggets will begin the search for a new coach immediately, and an announcement will be made when the process is concluded.
Several sources told Adams that Lionel Hollins, coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brian Shaw, assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers, could be a possible replacement for Karl.
George Karl’s Playoff History with Nuggets
- 2005: 1-4, Loss to Minnesota Timberwolves in First Round
- 2006: 1-4, Loss to Los Angeles Clippers in First Round
- 2007: 1-4, Loss to San Antonio Spurs in First Round
- 2008: 0-4, Loss to Los Angeles Lakers in First Round
- 2009: 10-6, Loss to Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference Finals
- 2010: 2-4, Loss to Utah Jazz in First Round (Adrian Dantley was head coach in playoffs)
- 2011: 3-4, Loss to Los Angeles Lakers in First Round
- 2012: 2-4, Loss to Golden State in First Round
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