COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (October 9, 2001) -- Milwaukee Bucks head coach George Karl was today named head coach of USA Basketball's 2002 World Championship Team that will compete in the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championship for Men that is being held in Indianapolis, Indiana, Aug. 29-Sept. 8, 2002. Karl's selection was made by the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team Committee and approved by USA Basketball's Executive Committee.
Karl will coach a 12-member USA team comprised of NBA players who will be selected at a later date. While NBA players will represent the United States in the FIBA World Championship for just the second time, the United States is hosting the World Championship for the first time in the event's 52-year history.
"I don't know that I've ever discussed it with anyone, but this has been a dream of mine for a while," said Karl. "Being selected is very humbling for me. Our country has so much greatness and tradition in international basketball competition. Being chosen to carry on that tradition is one of the top two or three highlights of my career.
"There are a lot of qualified coaches out there, so this is a tremendous compliment. It's hard to describe how moved I am. How can you not feel inspired by the honor of being chosen to represent your country in the World Championships? It's a special day and I'm really looking forward to the competition."
"George Karl has been successful at every level of basketball he has coached and the USA Basketball Executive Committee knows he is an outstanding choice to lead our 2002 World Championship team," said USA Basketball President Tom Jernstedt. "FIBA's World Championship is the most prestigious and competitive competition in international basketball and for the first time it is being held in the United States in Indianapolis, Indiana. Basketball fans in the United States and worldwide will be treated to some outstanding basketball. We know that George and the USA team will continue the proud tradition USA Basketball teams have established."
"George Karl is among the NBA's most successful and respected coaches," said Stu Jackson, the chair of USA Basketball's Senior Men's National Team Committee and the NBA's Senior Vice President for Basketball Operations. "George has a wealth of international coaching experience and an overall love for the game of basketball that makes him the perfect choice to coach USA Basketball's 2002 World Championship team."
Karl has been a head coach in the NBA for 14 seasons and currently ranks 17th all-time in NBA coaching wins and is seventh among active coaches. Listing 10th all-time among NBA coaches for win percentage, among active coaches only Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan have a higher winning percentage than Karl, who ended the 2000-01 season with a career record of 625-418 (.599 winning percentage).
In 2000-01, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first Central Division championship in 15 seasons. He has not only guided the Bucks into the playoffs in each of his three seasons, but he has now led teams to the NBA Playoffs 10 consecutive years.
Karl has established an unparalleled knack for turning teams into contenders in his 14 NBA seasons with Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee. Three seasons after inheriting a Bucks team that had not participated in the Playoffs in seven years, he led the 2000-01 Bucks to their first 50+ win season since 1987, and to their first division championship since 1986. In the process on Jan. 31, 2001, against Denver, Karl became only the 17th NBA coach to win 600 games, doing so in fewer games than all but five coaches (Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, Jerry Sloan, Don Nelson) in league history. On Jan. 19 at Charlotte, he became only the 20th coach to preside over 1,000 NBA contests. Karl also made Milwaukee franchise history, reaching 100 wins faster than any previous coach in Bucks annals when he improved to 100-81 with a win at Atlanta on Feb. 14.
Since joining the Bucks, Karl has a record of 122-92. In his first season (1998-99), Karl coached the Bucks to a 28-22 record and catapulted the team into the playoffs for the first time since the 1990-91 season. In 1999-2000, he led the Bucks to their second consecutive playoff appearance, and became the fastest Bucks coach to reach 50 wins (89 games).
Prior to joining the Bucks, Karl completed one of the most successful runs in the history of basketball, a stretch of six full seasons (1992-98) with the Seattle SuperSonics during which his teams averaged 59 wins per season. During Karl's tenure, the Sonics won more games (357) than any team in the league except the Chicago Bulls. The Sonics advanced to the NBA Finals in 1996 and past the first round on four other occasions.
Karl broke into coaching as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs (ABA) and landed his first head coaching position with the Montana Golden Nuggets of the CBA in 1980. After three successful seasons in the CBA, Karl accepted a personnel position with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was elevated to head coach the following season. Karl led the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Released by Cleveland 67 games into his second season, Karl was hired by the Golden State Warriors in 1986, taking over a team that won just 30 games and had not made the playoffs in nine years. Karl won 42 games in his first year with the Warriors and led Golden State to the Western Conference Semifinals. He resigned from Golden State 64 games into the 1987-88 season and went back to the CBA, where he coached the Albany Patroons into the record books (1988-89, 1990-91). The 1990-91 Patroons finished the season with a CBA league record 50-6 mark, including a perfect 28-0 at home. In all, Karl set the standard with the highest winning percentage in CBA history (.727) as his CBA teams compiled a record of 176-66 in his five CBA seasons.
After both stints at Albany, Karl coached in Spain with Real Madrid (1989-90 and 1991-92). Even overseas, Karl's teams posted a winning percentage of .701. Shortly after resigning from Real Madrid in 1992, Karl joined the Sonics.
As a player, he was drafted by the New York Knicks in the fourth round of the 1973 Draft, however, he signed with the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA. All told, Karl played five seasons, the final two in the NBA after the 1976 NBA/ABA merger, and averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 assists over 264 games in his five seasons.
He attended the University of North Carolina, where in three varsity seasons his teams amassed a record of 77-19 and he compiled 1,293 points (13.8 ppg.), 394 assists (4.2 apg.) and 279 rebounds (3.0 rpg.). As a senior in 1972-73, Karl served as co-captain and averaged 17.0 points and 5.8 assists a game for a UNC team that finished 25-8 and advanced to the NIT semifinals. In his junior season, he averaged 11.7 ppg. and 4.3 apg. to help lead the Tar Heels to the 1972 NCAA Final Four and a 26-5 record, and during his sophomore season (1970-71) he averaged 12.3 ppg. and aided UNC to a 26-6 mark and the 1971 NIT title.