We all know George Karl as the man who survived two cancers, won 1000+ (regular season) games and has 20+ years of coaching experience in the NBA.
But many of us also know him as a coach who has lost more playoff games than win them, makes decisions that make you do nothing but ask this question inside your head: "What the hell is he thinking!?". His decision making, questionable logic has made him pay in his 20+ years of coaching in the NBA. Before the pro-Karl people jump here and beat me up for being Mr. Carlos Curmudgeon, let me enumerate few of the worst losses Karl has ever had in his coaching experience (I am not a decade-long Nuggets fan so I only know a few):
1994 First Round Series vs Nuggets - The Sonics had it all - best home record, best road record, BEST NBA RECORD - but they messed it all up. Having the season record of 63-19 during Year 1 of Michael Jordan's first retirement, the Sonics were supposed to storm their way to the NBA title, not to mention pummel the Nuggets (who made it the playoffs for the first time since 1989) in the first round. They did made a quick work of it (winning games 1 and 2) but went on to lose 3 straight games, giving the Nuggets the glory of being the first 8th seeded team to advance to the second round. While many people would say the Nuggets won it with heart, some would say it was Karl's fault. He clearly had no answer for Dikembe Mutombo's defensive prowess, a problem which became worse. Karl doesn't know what to do to handle Brian Williams' energy, Reggie Williams' scoring, and the emergence of LaPhonso Ellis. I appreciate the way the Nuggets' resiliency in that series, but at the end of the day, the fault goes to George Karl.
Nuggets lose to the short-handed Sacramento Kings at home (115-118) - The "We Quit" Nuggets were fighting for their lives just to make the playoffs when they faced the Kings (who had no Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas). The Nuggets had a nine-point lead after the first quarter then suddenly Francisco Garcia and Mikki Moore turned into all-stars (29 points and 23 points, respectively). The Kings made sure Kevin Martin's big night (36 points) won't be spoiled as they escape with a win at the Pepsi Center. Just horrible
Unacceptable loss to the Timberwolves (100-106) - This Nuggets team, fresh off a defeat from the WCF, are destined to be better considering they added Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson (rookie at that time). They started the season well by beating some good teams (Jazz, Lakers, Blazers). But those good/great wins were negated by bad ones (Bucks, Heat, Clippers). But this loss did not make me sleep well. In my opinion, this falls as one of the worst (if not, the worst) I've ever seen. Why? The Nuggets had rest prior to this game, they were undefeated at home (prior to this game), and the Wolves were a bad as hell (1-15 that time). What makes this game as supposed easy win is that the Nuggets clobbered the Wolves in their previous matchup. But no, the Wolves made the Nuggets continue the trend of making bad teams turn into contenders as the Wolves used a big third quarter to beat the Nuggets on their home floor.
Karl makes bonehead decision as the Nuggets lose to the Heat (98-93) - The Nuggets were on the verge of being blown out by Miami on their home floor (the Heat had a 19-point lead one time) until they finally became alive in the 4th quarter, led by McGee's great performance. But McGee was subbed out for Gallinari (who struggled) and the Heat were able to hold on, despite the Nuggets' continuous attempts of taking the lead. Say what you want about Gallinari's bad 3-point attempt, I really felt George Karl's decision of not going for the hot hand (McGee) killed us in that game.
People can say it's just one game and that, but I've had enough with Karl's excuses. I have given him a break numerous times when the Nuggets are playing bad because I still think he's good coach but the sad truth is, he is not the ideal coach for this Nuggets team. And why? He doesn't know how to utilize depth. Here are my proofs that Karl doesn't know what "depth" is:
Jordan Hamilton worked his ass the whole summer trying to improve his game, his body, and his DEFENSE so that he can finally earn the sixth man role we expected him to have. But no! For some reason, Karl still has the rookie treatment for Hamilton. Also, Jordan Hamilton, who is a great shooter even we don't see it in the actual game, is supposed to be the answer to our three-point shooting woes. But Karl preferred Corey "I don't just shoot threes, but when I do. I brick them" Brewer over Ham. Not giving much minutes on Fournier is understandable considering he's a rookie (ugh), but not giving minutes for Hamilton is where I draw the line.
Speaking of Evan Fournier, don't play him just in garbage time. This kid (who is around 3 years older than me) is competitive enough to play with grown-up men. And he plays like he is not lost (unlike Mozgov). There are times he can hit a three, which is something we desperately need. Remember this: Every time Corey Brewer is the only one making threes, we will lose the game. Period.
Give Anthony Randolph some run. Yes the kid has potential blah blah blah, but he does have some knocks: he is turnover prone and he has behaviors issues, etc., but I really think Denver is supposed place where he can finally make a redemption... if only he was given some minutes.
To all the guys who are big/crazy dreamers of big/crazy trades, let me ask you a question: Do you really think Josh Smith, Pau Gasol, Monta Ellis, or even Dwayne Wade can save the Nuggets as long as George Karl is the coach? I used to admire the guy but after I witnessed the Nuggets played uninterested, lifeless basketball which led to an unsurprising loss to the San Antonio Spurs, I'm officially a member of the "Fire George Karl club".
This Nuggets team is built to overcome all the doubts thrown at them, but since they are led by a faulty coach (George Karl), it seems they are destined to collapse, that is, miss the playoffs altogether. I'm not saying Masai Ujiri should blow up the team. This team is too talented to flop like what we witnessed when playing against bigger competition (like the Spurs). It was said that this season is supposed to be the season that Karl should not mess up, but sadly and frustratingly (although it's too early), he did. Once again, it's not the players' fault, it's on the coach.