Entering this season, Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl had 1,074 wins, a .595 winning percentage and one Finals appearance in 24 seasons, yet somehow no Coach of the Year award.
An official release on NBA.com revealed that Karl ran away with the award, nabbing 62 of 121 first-place votes to more than double the final tally of the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra, who came in second.
It's difficult to perfectly measure a head coach's worth to a team, but when he is able to get his squad to exceed expectations and overcome adversity, major credit is deserved.
Karl did all that and more.
The Nuggets lost Arron Afflalo, Rudy Fernandez and Al Harrington in the offseason, and while they brought in superstar defender Andre Iguodala to help quell those departures, it was unclear how the new unit would mesh, especially with such an inexperienced frontcourt.
It appeared that Nuggets would be able to repeat their 2011-12 success with a sixth-place finish in the West, give or take a seed, but when they entered January with a underwhelming record of 17-15, those projections looked a little too optimistic.
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But Karl clearly just needed time to get his young lineup to mesh and establish chemistry. In January, the Nuggets went 12-3. In February, 8-4. In March, 13-2. During a five-week stretch between February and March, they even rattled off 15 wins in a row.
In a matter of months, despite several injuries throughout the roster, the veteran coach took a team with an average record to a top seed in the West.
Karl's Nuggets may have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last week, but that should not take away from this well-deserved regular-season honor.