Karl says Carmelo trade helped Nuggets
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets coach George Karl wouldn’t admit it at first, but it was official by the end of an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday: he’s having a blast.
The sixth-winningest coach of all-time, this 61-year-old who spent recent years fighting off cancer (twice) and enduring the Melo-drama that led to Carmelo Anthony being traded to New York back in 2011, is having fun again with a team that embodies all that is good about one of the game’s great coaches. While the Miami Heat have extended their winning streak to 24 games in what is the second-longest in league history, Karl’s Nuggets (47-22) have quietly won 13 straight and set a new franchise mark for the Nuggets’ NBA era that started in 1976. Their latest win came on Tuesday night, as they won 114-104 at Oklahoma City.
The Nuggets are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference, pushing to secure the home-court advantage in the playoffs that would be key considering they’re 30-3 at the Pepsi Center this season and on pace to best the team record of 36-5 at home (set in 1976-77). Point guard Ty Lawson (16.9 points a game) and small forward Danilo Gallinari (16.3) are sharing the lead scoring duties, but six players average double figures in scoring and the defense that has been the fifth-best in the league during the streak is headed by new addition Andre Iguodala (who was traded to Denver from the Philadelphia 76ers last summer as part of the Dwight Howard deal that sent him from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers). Karl’s system — player politics be darned — is the sort of meritocracy that is rarely seen in today’s professional sports landscape.
Karl, who is hopeful that this group can deliver the championship that has eluded him in 25 years as a head coach in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver, took some time to discuss these Nuggets and his career.
Q. So you having fun yet?
A. You know, in coaching you don’t ever really have that joyful fun, but there’s no question that … [For more on NBA A-Z: George Karl says Carmelo trade helped Nuggets, click here.]