George Karl, the Denver Nuggets head coach for the past nine seasons, has been named the NBA’s 2013 Coach of the Year. Karl led the Nuggets to a team-record 57 wins this season, which earned him the top coaching award for the first time in his 25-year career.
The 61-year-old received 62 first-place votes, well ahead of the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra who managed 24 votes. The New York Knicks‘ Mike Woodson finished third and was followed by Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
Popovich won the award last year and is currently battling in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. Karl’s Nuggets were knocked out in the first round by the Warriors in six games.
The first round upset obviously had no affect on the panel of sports writers and broadcasters who voted on Coach of the Year, as Karl won the award over all eight coaches who remain in the NBA playoffs at the moment.
The Denver Nuggets best season under George Karl didn’t end before he received criticism for the upset by the Warriors, as the Nuggets have now lost in the first round in each of the last four seasons. The string of first-round losses came a year after losing in the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.
The Lakers went on to beat the Orlando Magic in five games for the NBA championship. The Nuggets conference finals appearance in 2009 was sandwiched in-between eight first-round losses.
His playoff struggles don’t really tell the story as George Karl’s Nuggets weren’t always expected to make a run at a championship. He’s made the most of his team since coming to Denver in 2004 and has utilized his players’ skill sets without a dominant force.
Karl’s only true superstar to build on was Carmelo Anthony, who took his talents to New York in a trade during the 2010-11 season. The Nuggets have made the playoffs each year since and George Karl is finally being recognized for it.
“I am honored and energized to represent coaching and be their ambassador as coach of the year and continue to symbolize the great coaching there is in the NBA,” Karl said in a statement after hearing the news.
Do you believe George Karl deserved to be named the NBA’s 2013 Coach of the Year?
[Image via Keith Allison]