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George Karl joins the Spurs “Welcome Back” club

Past player and assistant coach takes a bow

Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Spurs may be out on their Rodeo Road Trip, but when they are home, they have introducing their former players and staff as part of the 50th anniversary.

Last week, just before they wrapped up at the AT&T Center, they brought back legendary head coach George Karl as part of their “Welcome Back” series at home games.

Karl is the 6th winningest coach in NBA history, but what many fans may not know is that George Karl played in the NBA.

Technically, Karl started out in the ABA. Although he was drafted by the NBA Knicks in 1973, he opted for San Antonio. He played alongside George Gervin and was part of the transition team from the ABA to the NBA. His game did not translate as seamlessly and his playing was reduced. He retired after five season with the Spurs, making him a rare case of a played whose entire playing career was with one team (and actually lasted more than a few games).

He transitioned into a Spurs assistant coach, extending his stay in The Alamo City. He then became a head coach. Over the next 3 decades, he shaped the landscape of the NBA.

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