The Cleveland Cavaliers are in prime position to create a splash in the NBA. Cleveland possesses a young roster with a tremendous upside and an amazing opportunity to add another puzzle piece to our developing squad. On Tuesday night, the basketball gods granted another Cleveland miracle, awarding the Cavs with the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Despite the amount of potential our team conceals, along with the number one pick, Cleveland still has one gigantic hole to fill: a head coach.
Since the position vacancy, George Karl has publicly announced his desire to control the helm. If the Cavaliers pass up on this opportunity, there is no telling what consequences may unfold. Karl is arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, definitely top ten, who remains willing to teach and willing to lead a group of players like Cleveland. The arrival of George Karl brings instant leadership and relevance.
In other words, Karl sports a pretty impressive resume that speaks volumes on paper. The 63 year old was a three time coach of the year (81, 83, and 91) for the Continental Basketball Association. For argument’s sake, focus should be on Karl’s NBA coaching credentials.
For instance, George Karl began his coaching career in 1985 with none other than the Cleveland Cavaliers. He slightly improved a 28-54 team into a 36-46 playoff contender. The Cavs were bounced out by the Boston Celtics and the drought continued into the next year. After a miserable 25-42 start, George Karl was dismissed by the team with 15 games left.
From Cleveland, Karl moved onto Golden State where he evolved a 30-52 team into a 42-40 franchise that reached the post season for the first time in ten years. The following season, Karl experienced frustration due to losing three out of four top scorers and the fourth missed a month due to alcohol rehab. Karl resigned with 18 games left after going 16-48.
Karl returned to the CBA and after a three year hiatus, dove back into the NBA for the 1991-1992 season with the Supersonics. During seven seasons in Seattle, the Supersonics made seven post seasons, won three consecutive division titles, four total, and achieved 50 plus wins every year except his first season, when Karl took over a 20-20 squad finishing out the year with a 27-15 record.
Once success was achieved, George Karl chased a lucrative contract to Milwaukee, where he spent five seasons. The instructor revived a struggling Bucks team who previously finished sub .500 into a 28-22 playoff contender. During the 2000-2001 campaign, Milwaukee won the division crown while falling one game short of a NBA finals appearance. Despite reaching the post season following the 2002-2003 year, George Karl was fired.
The final destination for Karl was Denver, where he commanded a 17-25 team to an incredible 32-8 record to finish second in the division. From that point on, the Nuggets never finished worse than second in the division standings, earning three division crowns. George Karl won the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year award after a 57 win season despite leading the NBA’s third youngest team (average age of 24.9) and not a single player averaging more than 16.7 points per game. Regardless of the Coach of the Year award and nine consecutive playoff appearances, Denver only advanced out the first round one time, reaching the 2009 Western Conference Finals, resulting in the termination of Karl’s tenure.
The Pennsylvania native spent this past year as an analyst for ESPN, but is eager to return to the sidelines. Cleveland would be dumb to let a coach of Karl’s quality slip through their fingers.
The man had racked up 1,131 victories, 6th on the most wins list behind Don Nelson (1,335), Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Jerry Sloan (1,221), Pat Riley (1,210), and Phil Jackson (1,155). Karl has led teams to eight division titles missing the playoffs only three times out of 25 years coaching (86 Cavs, 88 Warriors, and 02 Bucks). The 88 Warriors were the last team under his command with a sub .500 finish.
Not to mention, George Karl has a knack for rebuilding teams turning them into success stories. He reached the playoffs with every team that employed him. Karl is capable of developing young talent as well as managing egos by mentoring the likes of Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, Carmelo Anthony, and Nene Hilario. Also, he has drafted some quality players worth mentioning: Rafer Alston, Michael Redd, Ty Lawson, and Kenneth Faried. Needless to say, I believe Karl can coach, mentor, and even tame young rising stars.
Cleveland seems like an ideal location to start and end Karl’s coaching career. Karl can enter the facility, right the ship, and then stay behind the scenes with a promotion to team president. Becoming president seems to be trending now, look at what Pat Riley has accomplished and Phil Jackson is trying to complete the same feat.
I may be the only one, but I am definitely on the George Karl train. Who else is hopping aboard?
-Max Gold (Follow on Twitter @CST_Max_Gold)
Image Credited to: www.wagesofwins.com