In a day when coaching positions are as competitive as ever, few head coaches have a 25+ year career. Former Bucks coach, George Karl is one of those coaches. Karl was a staple in the league over five different decades. After a long NBA tenure, Karl was recently named a finalist to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The other coach accompanying Karl on the finalist list is long time West Virginia head coach, Bob Huggins.
NBA Teams Karl Coached
In 27 years, George Karl coached six different teams and worked for seven organizations. He first got his start as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. A few years later he accepted his first head coaching position with the Golden State Warriors. Here are the head coaching stints that Karl had in the NBA.
- Golden State – two years
- Cleveland – two years
- Seattle – seven years
- Milwaukee – five years
- Denver – nine years
- Sacramento – two years
A 27 years spent in any career is something to be proud of. A 27 year head coaching career in the stressful environment of the NBA is astonishing. The game of basketball has evolved over the years and George Karl was part of the era that saw NBA basketball explode.
Career as the Bucks Head Coach
Over the course of five seasons, Karl accumulated a record of 205-173 for a .542 win percentage. During his Milwaukee tenure, Karl was able to make the playoffs four out of five seasons. Unfortunately, Karl’s record in the playoffs was below .500 at 14-18.
Milwaukee’s best season under coach Karl was in 2000-01. The team posted a 52-30 record which saw them finish second in the eastern conference. The Bucks fought their way to a 10-8 playoff record that season. Ray Allen and company lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to MVP Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.
NBA Coaching Career
During George Karl’s 27 years as a head coach in the NBA he posted a 1,175-824 record for a .588 win percentage. The best single season record Karl managed was during the 1995-96 season. Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp helped coach Karl to a 64-18 record and a first place finish in the western conference. These two players would carry Seattle to the NBA Finals where they would lose to MVP Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Coach Karl won coach of the month 12 times over the course of his career. During the 2012-13 NBA season, Karl was finally named Coach of the Year with the Denver Nuggets. Some of the notable names on the Nuggets roster were Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. This team finished with a 57-25 record, good for 3rd in the western conference.
Hall of Fame Career?
George Karl’s coaching career was lengthy. A few names of head coaches who coached roughly the same number of years are Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan. Two coaches with the longest tenure in the NBA are Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkins. Each of the coaches named are all members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Statistically, Karl coached weaker teams and often times carried them to the playoffs. He’s earned his spot amongst the best to ever coach the sport!
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