The NBA’s active wins leader among head coaches, having accumulated 1,131 career victories, has now been honored with his first piece of hardware for individual achievement.
Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl was honored Wednesday as the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year.
Coach Karl led the Nuggets to the league’s fourth best record (57-25), the third seed in the Western Conference and an impressive league-best 38-3 record at home.
That’s a tall order for a team lacking a legitimate superstar that also sported the league’s third youngest roster.
Karl beat out a slew of other equally qualified candidates for the award, finishing first with 62 first-place votes ahead of the Miami Heat’s Eric Spoelstra, New York Knicks’ Mike Woodson and last year’s winner, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
[Surprisingly, Scott Brooks, head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder—who finished the season with the second best record and the top seed in the Western Conference—finished last in voting, receiving only three 3rd-place votes.]
After a 30 year career (25 in the NBA) as a basketball head coach, it only seems fitting that he won the Red Auerbach Trophy with the Denver Nuggets, considering he began coaching with the short-lived Montana Golden Nuggets in the Continental Basketball Association—where he won the coach of the year honors twice en route to two CBA finals appearances.
Two years removed from missing the second half of the season while overcoming cancer, he has now had his best regular season with the Nuggets. It is, however, not without its critics. While Denver has been to the playoffs each season that he has been there (nine in all), they have failed to make it out of the first-round eight times, including the last four straight seasons.
From the CBA to the NBA, Karl has had plenty of success but he has yet to win a championship. Thus far, he has only been to the NBA Finals once, having done so with the Seattle SuperSonics who lost in six games to the Chicago Bulls in 1996.
With the league being full of power teams, a championship in the immediate future looks fairly bleak, but anything is possible, especially for a coach capable of such a high level of sustained success, assuming he’s able to exercise his first-round demons.
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