Lakers Coaching Candidate Profile: George Karl


George Karl, age 62, from Penn Hills, Pennsylvania.

College: North Carolina

Basketball playing career stats:

a) North Carolina Tar Heels: (Guard, 4 years)

Games: 94

PPG: 13.6

FG%: 51.2

RPG: 3.0

APG: 4.2

b) ABA/NBA Career (Guard, 5 Seasons)

Drafted by the New York Knicks with the 66th pick (4th round) in the 1973 NBA Draft and the San Antonio Spurs who were then a part of the ABA (American Basketball Association.)

Games: 264

PPG: 6.5

FG%: 46.5

RPG: 1.4

APG: 3.0

Coaching resume:

NBA Career Coaching Record: 1131-756, .599 winning percentage (regular season)

NBA career playoff record: 80-105, .432 winning percentage

25 seasons NBA Head Coaching Experience

1x NBA Finals Appearance (1996 Sonics)

4x reaching Conference Finals (1993 and 1996 with Sonics; 2001 w/ Bucks; 2009 w/ Nuggets)

Has qualified for the NBA Playoffs in 22 of his 25 seasons coaching.

NBA head coaching jobs: 

Cleveland Cavaliers 1984-86 (2 seasons)

Golden State Warriors 1986-88 (2 seasons)

Seattle Supersonics 1991-98 (7 seasons)

Milwaukee Bucks 1998-03 (5 seasons)

Denver Nuggets 2004-2013 (9 seasons)

Coaching Highlights:

  • Coached the Seattle Supersonics to the 1996 NBA Finals before losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
  • Coached the Denver Nuggets to their best regular season record in the franchise’s NBA history in 2013 when the team finished 57-25.
  • Karl is sixth on the NBA all-time  head coaching wins list with 1131 and is just behind Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Lenny Wilkins and the all-time leader, Don Nelson (1335.)
  • Coached the Western Conference in the NBA  All Star Game in 1994, 1996 and 1998 as head coach of the Supersonics, and again in 2010 as coach of the Nuggets.


  • NBA Coach of the Year 2013 (Denver Nuggets)
  • CBA Coach of the Year in 1981, 1983 and 1991.

Notable players coached:

World B. Free, Chris Mullin, Sleepy Floyd, Ralph Sampson, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Ricky Pierce, Detlef Schrempf, Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Glen Robinson, Michael Redd, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Miller, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Steve Blake, J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby, Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson and Ty Lawson.

Coaching Style: 

  • Pushes the pace and wants players to attack the rim.
  • Generally does not employ tactics on defense.
  • Wants shots at the rim or 3 point shots, avoid mid range shots.
  • Very straightforward offense with easy to understand roles and plays.
  • Has shown to be adaptable depending on personal based on team personalities with Seattle who were defensive minded, then later with Milwaukee and Denver who very good offensive teams.
  • Mellowed in his older age, leaning more towards a players coach.

Fun facts:

  • Father of former Los Angeles Lakers, Coby Karl
  • Played for Dean Smith during this time at North Carolina
  • Broke into coaching immediately after his playing career as an assistant coach to San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Doug Moe in 1978.
  • Coached the US National Team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship. Team included notable players Elton Brand, Paul Pierce, Andre Miller, Ben Wallace, Baron Davis to name a few. See not so fun fact for results.

 Not so fun facts: 

  • His Seattle Supersonics in 1994 were the first number one seeded team in NBA history to lose a first round match up to an eight seeded team. The Sonics were 63-19, tops in the Western Conference, and lost 3 games to 2 against Dikembe Mutombo and the eigth seeded Denver Nuggets.
  • In 2012, George Karl made some disparaging comments about the Los Angeles Lakers when asked about the Lakers acquiring Nash and Dwight Howard just prior to the start of that season (click on hyperlink for context):

“I can’t deny that I just despise the Lakers,” Karl stated to a Denver Post reporter. 

  • His 2002 U.S. National Team did not place in the FIBA World Championship tournament.

– Fern Rea

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Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom