George Karl Going Strong: Why Coach's Health Is a Good Thing for the Nuggets

Vaden ChandlerCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2011

DENVER - NOVEMBER 11:  Head coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets directs his team against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center on November 11, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 118-112.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

This February 16th was an entirely different day for Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl than it was a year ago.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Karl can attest that this year's February 16th was a day marked by nothing more than the tough job of being an NBA coach. It was not marked by the fight of his life, as it was in 2010.

On this day one year and two days ago, Karl made the gut wrenching announcement to his Nuggets team that he had throat cancer.

"My desire is to do whatever I can to stay with my team throughout the treatment that I have to go through," Karl had said at the time. What followed would be 35 sessions and six weeks of difficult treatment of radiation and chemotherapy.

"Cancer is definitely a vicious opponent," Karl noted a year ago.

"Even the ones that are treatable, you never get a guaranteed contract." 

Fast forward to a year later, and in 2011 George Karl is completely cancer-free. Having fought a brave battle against this terrible disease, his last two PET scans have come back negative. 

When one has to fight a life-threatening disease such as coach Karl had to, an individual realizes just how precious life is and gets a new perspective when they are involved in competitive sports.

Life is more than just how many endorsements a professional athlete can rack up, how many points they can score, touchdowns they catch or how many Pro Bowls/All-Star Games they can make it to—George Karl is living proof of that.

With that being said, there are several reasons why George being cancer-free could be a beneficial thing to the Denver Nuggets basketball team.  


1. Karl's battle can inspire the team.

George's cancer battle is one of those journeys in life that can really put things into perspective because it shows the strong, tenacious leadership ability that he has. 


2. Karl's battle can put things into perspective.

We, as basketball fans, have a tendency to make such things as a Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup or NBA Finals as a life-and-death proposition, when in fact it is not.

While there is a lot of glory and good press to "winning it all," it is a temporal thing compared to a life-threatening illness.

The mindset that the Nuggets should have is that their coach's courageous battle against cancer speaks volumes about his leadership ability. 


3. Karl's battle proves that he is a winner.

Even if the Nuggets never make the playoffs again, George Karl kept his eyes on the ultimate goal of having the Nuggets win a championship.

Despite the devastating news that he had another cancer diagnosis to deal with, he continued to focus on helping his team to win. 


4. Karl's battle proves that he has a positive attitude.

While his initial press-conference was a sobering one, Karl assured the reporters and others present that he was going to do all he could to combat and to beat the disease for a second time.

The fact that he did so speaks of his attitude. 


5. Finally, Karl's battle proves that he can coach through distractions.

Simply put, George Karl is a darn-good coach! Because of his attitude, the team was able to remain contenders.

Although they would go through a first-round exit against the Jazz, the fact that they did not go into a tailspin after their coach's diagnosis speaks to the heart that this team has and that this coach has for his team. 



The fact of the matter is, Coach Karl has the ability to coach through distractions and has even proven it this year, what with all the trade rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony.

Even though the team might lose Anthony in the end, the Nuggets organization can be confident in the drive and determination of a man who will not even let a cancer diagnosis stop him from being the best coach possible.