2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

George Karl, unleashed

Published: June 14, 2013, 11:47 am, by Paul Klee

The George Karl farewell tour continued today.

I don’t recall a fired coach who was afforded this much time in the limelight… after he was fired. That probably tells us several things, one of them being Karl’s excellent relationship with Colorado media. Most local media side with Karl.

I thought Karl was a gift to basketball in Colorado. Along with Carmelo Anthony, he made it relevant again.

I also wrote I understood why Josh Kroenke made the tough call and removed Karl as coach. Here and here.

This morning, Karl was on the air on 104.3 The Fan. I seldom — OK, very seldom — agree with this particular host. But it was an enlightening interview, particularly when it came to Karl’s thoughts on the Nuggets roster.

Karl again voiced his support of playing Andre Miller as much as he did.

“If you would have taken Andre Miller out… the leadership of your locker room would have basically been broken into nothing,” Karl said.

“I know Andre didn’t play very well after Game 1 in the playoffs,” he added. “But what was the other option?”

I tend to think Evan Fournier will develop into one of the steals of the 2012 draft. Love his potential and composure. Got a little Manu Ginobili to his game. Karl didn’t believe Fournier was ready for the big stage of the NBA playoffs.

“Evan Fournier couldn’t have done it,” Karl said. “I’m sorry.”

“Evan is going to be a hell of a player,” he added. “I think playing him at the end of the season was great for everybody. … I think he can turn into a starting player in the NBA, and maybe even a little better.”

And for the odds Karl will be coaching next season — most likely in the Western Conference with two trips to Pepsi Center?

“I think 50-50. I think it’s 50-50,” Karl said. “Again, I want to coach. I want to be on the sideline. I don’t want to take a year off.”

The most likely possibility: Memphis.

“I’ve had preliminary talks with them,” Karl said, adding, “I think they can win the Western Conference. I think they can be a championship contender. All those things are exciting to me.”

It’s not hard to see why George Karl continues to make headlines in Denver. Nine seasons is a long, long time for one coach in one city. And these were successful seasons — nine playoff berths and an explosion into the 2009 Western Conference finals.

What I hope we don’t see is the coach blast his former organization for an extended period of time. Firings happen. Or, as Walt Weiss told us yesterday, “stuff happens.”

Change happens. Time to move forward.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette