I have observed him from afar for 40 years while we've shared some common experiences. Can a third one have a happy ending?
To my mind, George Karl, veteran NBA basketball coach is a winner. He's tenacious. I saw that in him when, in the early '70's, he played basketball in college at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I was a student there too. Those were the glory years of bigger than life coach Dean Smith and George was one of his recruits. George didn't disappoint then as the team played in the Final Four and won the NIT Tournament. George was scrappy.
He went on to the NBA as a player, but his knowledge as a basketball tactician served him best as a coach. Again, I got to watch him for several years as he coached in my adopted hometown of Seattle. They came ever so close to winning a national championship. Now that team, The Seattle Supersonics, is gone ' to Oklahoma City. And George has moved on too. (Unfortunately I never got to reminisce with him about UNC while he was here).
George eventually became the coach of the Denver Nuggets. But then George and I shared a third experience in common: He was diagnosed with cancer. In his case, much like actor Michael Douglas, it was throat cancer. And the treatment is really hard, even for a man of tough stuff like George.
The news the other day announced he was back to coaching the Nuggets after many months of the toxic effects of chemotherapy. He's lost weight and he can't shout from the sidelines with nearly the authority he could before. But, just as I got past cancer (CLL leukemia), I am betting that George can too.
Wouldn't it be great if this could be the year he wins a championship?
George Karl and I have travelled in parallel. UNC, Seattle, cancer. It has worked out for me and George, I am counting on it working out for you. Then, in our senior years we can walk together in good health down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, happy we've made the journey from coast to coast, beaten cancer, and given others hope they can too.
Wishing you and your family the best of health!