Nuggets' Karl Feeling Better Every Day in Cancer Recovery
"I played nine holes, and I was awful. So I might not do it [anymore],'' the Denver coach, who has been battling a form of throat cancer, said of recently playing golf for the first time in a while.
Other than that, it's been mostly good news lately for Karl. For more than a month, he's been coming into the Nuggets offices several times a week.
Monday was another such day. Karl, who will play a role in Denver's draft Thursday and at the (Las) Vegas Summer League next month, was on hand as the Nuggets worked out draft prospects at the Pepsi Center.
"Very good,'' Karl said of how he's feeling. "Every week is a little better. Been in the office a lot. Energy is good. Draft has got me excited. The team has got me excited. Time to get better.'''
In an interview with FanHouse last month, Karl, who missed the last 1 1/2 months of the 2009-10 season, expressed little doubt he will be on the bench next season. He reiterated that Monday.
"I fully expect to be back,'' said Karl, who was diagnosed with cancer in January and was replaced by assistant Adrian Dantley for 18 late regular-season games and the playoffs, in which Utah upset Denver 4-2 in the first round. "But, again, the doctors are in control and there are still some tests and situations I've got to pass. They'll be coming up here in a couple of weeks and maybe a little further than that.
"But now, everybody is excited and we'll just have to analyze and predict what the doctor is going to say. But, right now, I feel good about it and I feel good about being back on the bench.''
One key test for Karl will be a PET scan, likely in early July, which will determine if radiation and chemotherapy got all of Karl's cancer. Karl's doctor, Jacques Sarri, who told FanHouse in April initial tests showed just "a 15 percent chance his cancer may come back after two years,'' has been optimistic the PET scan will go well. But if a portion of the tumor remains, Sarri has said it would necessitate a "very involved surgery"
Karl, who completed 1 1/2 months of rugged radiation and chemotherapy treatment in early April, still must use a feeding tube that was installed in early March. But he's optimistic that soon will change.
"Some guys have gone eight months with the tube and there are people who actually live by the tube,'' said Karl, who lost about 40 pounds during his ordeal. "I hope to eat food and share stories over food very quickly. But it's just not happening right now.''
Karl, who has had mucus problems that have hampered his speaking ability the past several months, still has some problems in that regard. But that's one of several areas in which he's seeing continued improvement.
"I'm just being more active, walking more,'' he said. "My mouth is getting better but it's still not there yet. I talk more. I'm more sarcastic. ... So, obviously, my energy is a little better.''
Karl is offering opinions to team brass about the draft, even though the Nuggets don't have a pick. But Denver did work out 12 players Monday, evidence Karl said shows the team could end up acquiring a selection.
"He seems like a great guy,'' said draft prospect Luke Harangody of Karl. The forward from Notre Dame met Karl for the first time Monday. "That's great to see him up and moving around here. He sounds like he's doing a lot better. So that's great to hear.''
Karl will go to Las Vegas next month, where one of Denver's summer-league players will be his son, guard Coby Karl. But Karl, stressing he won't be "super active'' this summer, will stay for just three or four days.
When he feels tired, Karl said he doesn't come into the office or goes home early. But he's found his visits to the Pepsi Center therapeutic
"Your basketball family is your second life,'' Karl said. "These guys [with the Nuggets] are great. They're very close to me and I'm very close to them. It's good to be back. It's special. ... Coaching is winning and losing and competition, but there's a special bond between people that work for you and work with you.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at tomasson@christomason and on Twitter @christomasson