Franchise win record in sight after another career milestone

Nuggets coach George Karl now 32 victories from catching friend and former assistant Doug Moe
by Aaron Lopez

The Big Stiff is in his sights.

With 400 victories as Nuggets coach, George Karl is now 32 behind his good friend and former assistant Doug Moe for the most in franchise history. Moe’s win total is represented by a banner hanging from the Pepsi Center rafters.

“I see that number up there,” Karl said with a smile Wednesday. “He’s just an old stiff. I think I’ll get 32 more before I get fired.”

Moe, affectionately known as the Big Stiff, won 432 games as Denver’s coach from 1980-90. The number was “retired” by the Nuggets on Nov. 7, 2002.

For nearly two decades, Moe’s record appeared safe, but Karl has been in hot pursuit since going 32-8 after taking over as Denver’s coach in the middle of the 2004-05 season.

The Nuggets have won at least 50 games four times under Karl and are on pace to win 50 again this season.

“Coaches usually don’t have that long of life span,” Karl said. “I don’t know what that means other than I’ve had good players that won a lot of games. I love Denver. I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity – all the way back to Stan Kroenke and Kiki Vandeweghe and those guys for hiring me (in 2005). I owe them a lot for taking a chance on me.”

Over the course of nine seasons in Denver, Karl has experienced his share of highs and lows.

He guided the Nuggets to the 2009 Western Conference finals but was denied a chance at an encore when he left the team to receive treatment for head and neck cancer in 2010.

Karl returned to health for the 2010-11 season and has since collected career wins 1,000 and 1,100 to move into sixth place on the NBA’s all-time list. There’s no telling when the milestones will stop, but Karl has no doubt about where he will retire.

“I’ve found a home,” he said. “I’m going to live in Denver probably the rest of my life. It’s been a great run.”