Early coaching career
After his playing career, Karl became an assistant coach for the Spurs. Karl then moved on to the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) as head coach of the Montana Golden Nuggets (Great Falls). As coach of the Golden Nuggets, Karl won CBA Coach of the Year twice, in 1981 and 1983.
In 1984, Karl became the head coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, taking them to the playoffs in 1985. He was dismissed by the Cavs in 1986 near the end of the season.
In the 1986-87 season Karl coached the Golden State Warriors and took them from a record of 30-52 the year before, to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. They reached the semi-final round against the Magic Johnson led Los Angeles Lakers, game four of which is still shown on TV in the NBA's Greatest Games series. Eric "Sleepy" Floyd scored 12 straight field goals in the fourth quarter that gave him a still NBA playoff record 29 as well as a still standing record 39 in the second half and finished with 51 points in Golden State's 129-121 win.
Karl resigned from the Warriors with 18 games left in the 1987–88 campaign due to the frustration of losing when 3 of his top 4 per game scorers from the 1987 playoff team, including Sleepy Floyd, had been traded, and the fourth went through alcohol rehabilitation and missed over a month.
Karl returned to the CBA in 1988 as coach of the Albany Patroons for one year before coaching two years in Spain coaching the Real Madrid
In 1990/91 coach Karl was back in the CBA with the Albany Patroons where their 50-6 season, and astoundingly winning all 28 home games, won coach Karl CBA coach of the year for the third time.
Karl returned to the NBA as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics from 1991–1998, leading them to the NBA Finals in 1996 where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. In all seven of his seasons in Seattle, the team made the postseason, winning three division titles, and eclipsing the 50-win mark in every year that he was the full-time coach.
Milwaukee and FIBA
In 1998, Karl moved to the Milwaukee Bucks as head coach, lured by an excellent contract. He rebuilt a struggling team in his first three years, steadily increasing win totals, and guiding the team within one game of the NBA Finals in 2001. However, his team collapsed down the stretch in 2002, falling from the number one spot in the Eastern Conference in January to a season that ended out of the playoffs. He was fired after another underachieving season in 2003, when his team made the playoffs with a win total of just over the .500 mark.
He coached the US national team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship
He returned to the NBA in 2005 when he became head coach of the Nuggets, taking over from interim head coach Michael Cooper on January 27 and leading the team to the postseason. On July 27, 2005 the Nuggets announced that Karl had prostate cancer. Karl enjoyed a resurrection of his career with the Denver Nuggets, guiding them to an unprecedented 32–8 record in the second half of the 2004–05 season. Karl's son Coby was a reserve guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, after a career as starting point guard for Boise State University. Coby came out for the 2006 NBA Draft after a bout with thyroid cancer, but withdrew his name before the draft and returned to Boise State for his senior year.
On December 28, 2006, Karl became just the 12th coach in NBA history to reach the 800-win mark when his Denver Nuggets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 112–98.
On December 31, 2008, Karl reached 900 coaching career wins with his Denver Nuggets as he beat the Toronto Raptors, 114-107.
During the 2008-09 season, the Nuggets, led by Karl, Carmelo Anthony, and the newly acquired Chauncey Billups tied a franchise-best 54 wins and entered the playoffs as the Western Conference's #2 seed. On April 27, 2009, the Nuggets handed the Hornets a 58-point loss during game 4 of their first round playoff series. This tied the biggest margin in NBA playoff history
The Nuggets beat the Mavericks in 5 games during the semifinals, then went on to lose to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games, losing game 6 by 27 points.
Karl coached the Western Conference All-Stars at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game on February 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This was his fourth selection, and his first since leaving Seattle.
After the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, it was revealed in a press conference that Coach Karl was diagnosed with treatable neck and throat cancer. Karl was placed on leave of absence from the Nuggets while being treated. Assistant coach Adrian Dantley filled in as Acting Head Coach for the rest of the season, and the team finished poorly, and went from the second to fourth seed. Although Karl was not ruled out of coaching the second round, Nuggets were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in 6 games.
He has since recovered from cancer and has coached every game of the 2010-11 season, becoming the seventh NBA coach to record 1,000 career wins on December 10, 2010.
No. 22 Guard Personal information
Date of birth May 12, 1951 (age 60)
Place of birth Penn Hills, Pennsylvania
Listed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
College North Carolina
NBA Draft 1973 / Round: 4 / Pick: 66th overall Selected by the New York Knicks
Pro career 1973 – 1978
1973 – 1976 San Antonio Spurs (ABA)
1977 – 1978 San Antonio Spurs
1980 – 1983 Montana Golden Nuggets
1984 – 1986 Cleveland Cavaliers
1986 – 1988 Golden State Warriors
1988 – 1989 Albany Patroons
1989 – 1990 Real Madrid (Spain)
1990 – 1991 Albany Patroons
1991 – 1992 Real Madrid
1992 – 1998 Seattle SuperSonics
1998 – 2003 Milwaukee Bucks
2005 – present Denver Nuggets
Career highlights and awards
4× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1994, 1996, 1998, 2010)