DENVER – Longtime NBA coach and former Nuggets head coach George Karl has been taking in this year’s NBA playoffs, including the Finals, from his home in Denver.
He’ll be watching Tuesday’s Game 6 from a point of view that precious few people able to: as someone who has coached in the NBA Finals.
It was 1996 and he was the head coach of the Seattle Supersonics – playing against Michael Jordan and an all-time great Chicago Bulls team. The Sonics lost the series 4-2.
Karl said he’s enjoyed watching the Suns-Bucks series this year: “Two small-market towns, Milwaukee and Phoenix. I don’t know if that will ever happen again.”
But as a former Bucks coach (from 1998 to 2003), he said he’s rooting for Milwaukee.
“My heart is hoping Milwaukee gets it,” he said, adding that once you’ve coached for or played with an organization, it stays with you.
Karl is one of just nine coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 games. His stories career includes an exhilarating winning stretch in Denver from 2005 to 2013, with Nuggets teams that included Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
Denver7 asked him what’s standing in the way of the Nuggets being in the Finals next season.
“I’ve said the thing the Nuggets need is a point guard, a true, really point guard,” Karl said. “Three years ago, I said they should go after Chris Paul. Then Jrue Holiday came up, and I said on Twitter, ‘I think Jrue Holiday fits the Nuggets perfectly.’”
Both have been key contributors to their teams’ runs to the Finals this year.
Karl left the NBA in 2016 and has lived in Denver full-time since then. He hosts a popular podcast called “Truth and Basketball with George Karl” and is considering making documentaries.
The 70-year-old, three-time cancer survivor says his health has never been better.
“I’m almost at my playing weight. I weigh 210 pounds and I played at 202. I bike ride. I have an electric bike. I put in 15-20 miles every day when the weather is nice,” Karl said. “Might be too hot today. I swim a little bit, do some yoga.”
But does the famed coach have any plans to return to basketball? His son, Coby, has been the head coach of the South Bay Lakers, an NBA G-League team.
“I’d be interested in helping an organization. I don’t think I want to coach. I think if I do coach again, it will probably be in Europe or Australia, or somewhere lower level of intensity,” he said. “But I enjoy mentoring my son and other coaches in the league.”
And the big question: has he seen the new “Space Jam” and was it better than the first?
“I have not yet,” Karl laughed. “I haven’t seen either ‘Space Jam.’ When you become a basketball coach, movies go out the window. You don’t have 2 ½ hours to watch a movie in the coaching world.”