Current head coach for the Denver Nuggets has been named NBA Coach of the Year for the first time in his quarter century as league head coach.
The 61 year0old coach thanked everyone from his middle school coach who got him into the game to his good friend, the late Rick Majerus, in what was an emotional news conference at the Pepsi Center.
Karl credited Denver’s players, assistant coaches, scouts, trainers, front office, ownership and support staff as he eyed the bronze Red Auerbach Trophy in front of him.
The trophy pays tribute to the great mind behind the Boston Celtics teams back in the fledgling days of the basketball association league, Auerbach sitting at one end of the bench with his trademark cigar in his right hand, a rolled up program in his left.
When online sports betting fans visit Boston they will be able to find a life-sized statue of it in and Karl said he sat there once, thinking about this very special day.
Karl worked his magic with a lineup that lacked an All-Star, was plagued with injuries to several starters and twisted its way through a brutal early-season schedule in which 22 of the team’s first 32 games were away from home.
Counting on an old-school up-tempo offense and a deep bench that wore out rivals, especially at altitude, Denver led the NBA in scoring, fast break production and points in the paint with nary a dominant scorer – Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 16.7 points a game, which ranked 31st in the league.
They went an league-best 38-3 at home, winning their last 23 games at the Pepsi Center in the regular season and going 24-4 overall after the All-Star break.
The third-seeded Denver team sorely missed forward Danilo Gallinari (knee) in the NBA playoffs, nevertheless, and they lost in six games to Stephen Curry and the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors.
That was their fourth straight first-round exit and the most disheartening in Karl’s 8 1/2 seasons in Denver.