Nuggets out in first round (again); Time for coaching change

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Posted Sun, May 1, 2011

A post season sign far too familiar to Nuggets fans.

DENVER-For the seventh time in eight years, the Denver Nuggets’ season came to an end in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Nuggets, who led the Oklahoma City Thunder by nine points with less than four minutes to play, successfully self-destructed down the stretch run, managing to lose the game, and the series four games to one. While there are many NBA teams and markets that would be content with eight consecutive playoff appearances, Denver is a city for championships.

As a city for championships, when progress is not being made towards the achievement of that ultimate goal, the city, and its organizations, grow restless and inevitably call for change. Just ask Mike Shanahan, who was fired by the Denver Broncos in 2008, 10 years removed from back-to-back Super Bowl Championships. Shanahan was also the Broncos’ all-time winningest coach.

With the Nuggets latest display of mediocrity, the calls for change have never rung louder at the Pepsi Center. The time has come to answer those calls and make a change. While George Karl is undoubtedly a fine NBA head coach (7th all-time in wins), his ability to coach a team, more specifically the Nuggets, in the playoffs is suspect.

In his six and a half seasons with the Nuggets, Karl collected 328 regular season wins to only 204 losses, a winning percentage of .616. Compare that to Karl’s playoff record with the Nuggets of 16-30, a winning percentage of .347, and the contrast is shocking. Moreover, if you remove the Nuggets run to the Western Conference finals in 2008-09, the Nuggets are a dismal 6-24 in the postseason, having been swept or losing in five games in all but one of their first round match-ups. Did someone forget to forward Karl the memo that championships were the goal.

Karl is described by many of the players as a “players coach,” or the type of coach who the players like, not strict on discipline. Well, Karl’s relaxed and undisciplined style seems to always catch up with the team when it matters the most; in the post season. This can be seen as the team falls apart down the stretch; firing up three pointers without caution, turning the ball over in key situation and getting completely owned on the boards, allowing an unacceptable amount of offensive rebounds to their opponent in a must-win situation.

In fairness, George Karl has proven his ability to coach the game of basketball and will undoubtedly one day be enshrined in the pro basketball hall-of-fame. However, professional basketball is an industry that demands results, and the basketball fans in Denver expect the same. It is time the Denver Nuggets’ brass thanks George Karl for all he has done for the team and the city, and move on. The Nuggets are in desperate need of a new direction, one that includes success in the post season, and there is no better place to start than a coaching change.

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