George Karl is a former professional basketball coach and player. He played at the University of North Carolina under head coach Dean Smith. In his senior season, the Tar Heels finished third in the 1973 NIT.
Selected in the fourth round of 1973 NBA draft by the New York Knicks, Karl opted instead to sign with the ABA's San Antonio Spurs. He spent three years as the team's starting point guard, playing with George Gervin. After his playing career, Karl spent two years with the Spurs coaching staff as an assistant coach. He was then named head coach of the Montana Golden Nuggets of the Continental Basketball Association. Karl guided the team to the CBA Finals in 1981 and 1983, winning Coach of the Year both seasons. In 1983, Karl returned to the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers as director of player acquisition. Head coach Tom Nissalke was fired after the season in May 1984, and at age 33, Karl was promoted to head coach in late July. In his first season, the Cavaliers made the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. In late May 1986, Karl was named head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Karl took them from a record of 30–52, from the year before, to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. Karl would go on to coach the Super Sonics, Nuggets, Bucks and Kings, often being tasked with coaching against legendary championship teams.
Karl is an avid supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and serves as an ambassador for their Hoops for St. Jude basketball initiative. As of 2021, Karl is one of 9 coaches in NBA history to have won 1,000 NBA games.