Sunday, May 5, 2013

To Fire, or Not to Fire?

To Fire, or not to fire….What the hell are we going to do with George Karl?

Damn you John Elway. And you too, Joe Sakic. Without you two, Denver would have never won anything. You spoiled us with Super Bowls and helicopter flips, Stanley Cups and wrist shot winners. You gave us a taste of glory, without which, the Denver faithful would not be thirsting for the sweet, sweet taste of a championship. DAMN YOU!!

 It has been four thousand three hundred and forty eight days since the Colorado Avalanche delivered the city of Denver its last championship. Times were good. Well, good enough anyway. The Avs just wrapped up their second Stanley Cup in five years, and the city was still drunk off of the champagne of back to back Super Bowl wins just a few years before (wandering around in our drunken stupor asking, “Can John still come back?”).  The Rockies weren’t anything special, but up-and-comer Todd Helton was obliterating the National League, and the Nuggets….well, who cared about the Nuggets? They were downright awful, and had no place in our newfound city of champions.

Times have changed.

Since January 27th, 2005, the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, and Colorado Avalanche have appeared in postseason play exactly eight times. Combined. Each franchise has acquired either the first or second pick in their respective drafts at least one time over that span. And the one constant over this roller coaster of success? George Karl’s Denver Nuggets.

Nine seasons. Nine Playoff appearances. 423 wins. A .622 winning percentage in the regular season. Three division titles.

Fire George Karl?

“Come on, man, they’ve only made it out of the first round one time over that span.”

The Nuggets have lost to the eventual NBA champions three times in the playoffs since Karl took over (SAS 04-05, 06-07, LAL 08-09) and once to the Western Conference champions (LAL 07-08). That’s forty five percent of the time that the Karl Nuggets lost to the team that EVERYBODY lost to (or everybody minus one).  In fact, only five teams have won the NBA championship since 04-05, and the Nuggets drew two of them in these “failed” first rounds. The Nuggets have fallen at the hands of Tim Duncan twice, Kobe Bryant three times, and Kevin Durant once. Hell, you can even add Steph “I’m-in-range-when-I-step-off-the-bus” Curry.

Only four times have the Nuggets finished the regular season with home court advantage in the first round (05-06, 08-09, 09-10, 12-13), and George was out with cancer for the 09-10 disappointment against the Utah Jazz. In 08-09 the Nuggets went on their only run of Karl’s career, losing to the eventual NBA champion LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals (F***** Anthony Carter). That leaves two years of unexpected disappointment directly correlated to Karl.

There’s no debating that this season’s brief playoff run was crushing.  After winning 57 games, I don’t think anybody in this city expected this Nuggets team to lose, and I know nobody in this city expected them to lose so convincingly. You can blame the referees, or Mark Jackson for lobbying the officials for calls in the decisive game six, but the bottom line is that the Nuggets got absolutely out-played, out-hustled, and out-heart-ed throughout the series. But let’s make one thing clear; The 2012-2013 version of the Denver Nuggets was NOT going to win a championship. As much as we want to believe that we can re-create the Detroit Pistons a la Chauncey “Mr. Big Shot” Billups, and win a championship without a superstar, we all know the underlying truth; It’s just not going to happen, not with this group.

This city is most certainly still reeling and grudging against our beloved sports’ teams; In 2013, the Broncos and Nuggets have broken our hearts in the playoffs. The Rockies look promising, but history (and “heavy legs”) suggests that this success may be short lived. And don’t even get me started on the train-wreck Colorado Avalanche.

Before the 2012-2013 NBA season, the Nuggets were supposed to merely be a part of the lower seeded playoff race. There’s no way this team could, or would, finish higher than sixth in the Western Conference. But George Karl took this team to 57 wins, and a third seed, and frankly, he deserves to be coach of the year for that accomplishment. But somehow this accomplishment has morphed into the grindstone for his axing. It would be great to sign a big name free agent like Dwight Howard, or go after a legendary coach like Phil Jackson. There’s only one problem: THEY AREN’T COMING TO DENVER!

Last time I checked, there are no legendary quarterbacks refusing to join the Baltimore Colts, or any Canadian franchises looking to relocate at 5280 feet.

Fire George Karl? You’ve got to be kidding me.