‘‘We are in a stage now where a lot of coaches are going to be fired — and some of you want me fired — but the truth of the matter is there’s not very much bad coaching in the NBA, there are some bad situations that don’t work. But from the head coaches to the assistant coaches to the scouts, there are so many talented people that help every organization do their job at a high level. But unfortunately, half of us lose every night.’’
Karl choked back tears when he mentioned Majerus, the former standout college coach who died of heart failure in December.
‘‘I miss him a lot,’’ Karl said. ‘‘And he’s a college coach and I'm a pro coach and we had more arguments than agreements in my lifetime. But I learned so much about coaching because of his love for the game and his love for me.’’
Karl then turned to his partner, Kim Van Deraa, the mother of their 8-year-old daughter.
‘‘And then so much of coaching is you cheat your family, and I wanted Kim to be here and my daughter, Kaci, because I know I'm cheating them. And I thank everybody,’’ he said, choking back tears. ‘‘OK, I'll get caught up now. But all I'm trying to say is friends and family are so, so important in what I've become and in what I am. And without them you cannot be successful.’’
A two-time cancer survivor, Karl changed his coaching style after returning from throat cancer in 2010. He delegated more duties at practice, relying on his assistant coaches to do much of the teaching.
‘‘Before cancer, I was much more dominant and now I'm much more, for lack of a better phrase, democratic,’’ said Karl, who also beat prostate cancer several years ago.
‘‘I've always thought that head coaches were too dominant and I think the balance that I brought was maybe the cancer said I don’t have the energy to do what I did in the past,’’ Karl said. ‘‘And I was aware that stress and unhealthy living creates cancerous situations and once you have cancer, you have more chances to have more cancerous situations. So, I wanted to be careful.’’
In many ways, that shift was the wellspring of the unification Karl so credited on Wednesday when he won this long elusive award.
‘‘There’s 15 guys in that locker room, I get to talk to maybe three or four of them every day. So, my staff has to take care of at least seven or eight more guys,’’ Karl said.
‘‘It’s not about one person doing it well; it’s about how well all of us do it as one.’’
AP Sports Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton can be reached at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton