NBA Interview: Coach George Karl, former Denver Nuggets Head Coach


On Wednesday, February 27th former Denver Nuggets Head Coach and former University of North Carolina player, George Karl visited Northfield High School’s Spring Sports Kickoff to speak about sports and high school life. George Karl played 5 years and coached 32 years for the Denver Nuggets as well as the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers or the Seattle Supersonics. In his time in Denver, he coached the most successful Nuggets generation with players like Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. But the greatest challenge of this coach’s life is beating cancer three times.

He addressed many topics important in high school sports today. After this speech, Coach Karl was generous enough to record an interview for The Daily Nighthawk. 

Levin Rahn, Northfield High School Sophomore: Mr. Karl, what advice do you have for high school athletes who want to play a sport in college or go to do their sport on a professional level?

Coach George Karl:  Oh, I don’t want to advice anybody [about going] pro, because that is a very high goal for most of the people, but I think to play a sport on a high level like this, you have to dedicate extremely to [your] sport and you have to love it. It takes commitment and a life dedicated to the sport. There is a line where sport becomes hard work and it becomes tough. If it would be easy, everybody would do it. Most games are mentally as important as physical.

LR: What did you learn in your time as a coach that can benefit high school students and teachers?

GK: Communication is a very important thing, because in our world of today it is a way to motivate students and athletes. They have to believe in themselves and take all their potential. Teachers and coaches have to think about that, it is not about telling a student, it is about directing a student. It is about motivating and inspiring a student. And then, if they take your advice and do it on their own, they will be successful.

LR: Who was the best player you got to coach?

GK: There were Ray Allen, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Carmelo Anthony.

LR: Who do you think learned the most from you in your coaching career?

GK: It is hard to say, because if you become pro, you already learned a lot, but I always enjoyed coaching Point Guards, like Sam Cassell, Gary Payton, Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson. A bigman who I really liked was Detlef Schrempf in my time at the Seattle Supersonics.

LR: What do you think about European Basketball?

GK: I love it. I coached Real Madrid for two years and it was a lot of fun. It is the second best basketball [league] in the world. I think it is better to compare them to college basketball, but there is still a very high level.

LR: What did you learn from your time with cancer and what advice can you give to somebody who goes through a crisis?

GK: If you are facing death then it is different, but I learned that you have to take care of your life and you have to believe in yourself and think about somebody who loves you.

For more information about George Karl’s efforts to fight cancer, click here.