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Thursday, June 1, 2006
Coby Karl works out for Nuggets and his father

Associated Press

DENVER -- George Karl absolutely loved the lanky Boise State guard who worked out for the Denver Nuggets.

Actually, he's admired this kid for 22 years.

George Karl & Coby Karl
George Karl, left, hasn't coached Coby Karl much, but that could change.

Karl's only son, Coby, worked out for the Nuggets on Wednesday just three weeks after undergoing a second round of chemotherapy for thyroid cancer.

George Karl acknowledged he watched the prospect wearing the No. 1 jersey more as a proud papa than a critical coach.

"My opinion of him as a player is tainted," Karl said. "I think he's pretty good, as all fathers think their kid's probably better than he really is, always wants the best for him, wants the best situation, wants the coach to run every play for him."

Still, the coach was impressed enough by the workout to recommend the Nuggets select his son with the 49th pick in the NBA draft June 28 should Coby Karl decide not to go back to school for his senior season.

"I would take him, but I'm not [the one] pulling the trigger," the coach said.

That would be player personnel director Mark Warkentien, who is steering the franchise through the draft in the absence of a general manager following the recent dismissal of Kiki Vandeweghe.

As a father, George Karl actually prefers his son stay in school, however.

He's telling his son to enjoy the process. Coby Karl also has workouts scheduled for the Clippers, SuperSonics and Wizards and has been invited to the league's pre-draft camp in Orlando, Fla.

"My gut says, 'You know I would probably like him to go back because I think the system is messed up,' " George Karl said. "I think we should have a system where kids go to college. And I think Coby knows that. Coby knows I lean probably for him to be a student-athlete."

Yet, George Karl also longs to coach Coby in the NBA.

"You know, I've stayed away from coaching him most of the time. I've always felt I'd be too hard on him or too rough on him. I'd like to do it now, though," George Karl said. "I think he's ready for pro level basketball. Now, I don't know if that means NBA basketball. It might mean European basketball. It might mean China basketball."

Coby Karl, who averaged 17.2 points last season, would love to play for his dad in Denver.

"I think he could do wonders with me," Coby Karl said. "He knows me probably better than anyone so that would be an advantage, but that's in a dream world."

"He's a great dad as it is," Coby Karl added. "But as a basketball coach, he's even better."

Coby Karl would settle for hearing his name called on draft night. While he knows playing for another coach in another city might be easier on him, "I'm not sure it would be better," Coby Karl said. "Because [his father] knows me as well as anybody as a basketball player and a person so he could probably push my buttons pretty well."

The Karls decided to have Coby test the NBA waters after his second cancer scare a month ago, when he had to undergo another round of iodine and isolation as doctors tried to kill off any cancer cells left in his body following surgery to remove his thyroid.

It came just a few months after George Karl underwent surgery himself for prostate cancer.

The drugs added 10 pounds to the 205 pounds Coby normally packs on his 6-foot-4 frame, and sapped him of his strength and stamina.

"About seven, eight days ago I had to kick him around a little bit," George Karl said. "He knew he was in bad shape. He knew he had to spend more time in the gym. And I told him, 'You've got options, Coby. You don't have to do this. You can take the summer off, blame it on you know what or you can commit to getting back in shape and going through the process."'

Coby, who sports a four-inch pinch scar across his throat, chose the latter.

"I'm at 211, but my body fat's where it was before," Coby Karl said. "So, I think I got stronger through the process mentally and physically."

The workout Wednesday proved cathartic for both men.

"Today was a proud moment for me," George Karl said, "I know it isn't big time but it is big time. I mean, very few players get the opportunity to go on an NBA court and be evaluated by NBA personnel."

What do others think about Coby Karl?

Nuggets assistant general manager Jeff Weltman scouted him this winter when he scored 32 points against Nevada "and came back and said, 'I don't know if Coby Karl's an NBA player but he was an NBA player on that night,"' George Karl recounted.

"You can't ask for much more as a father."