Coby Karl, a 6-foot-5 guard from Boise State, went undrafted in 2007. But Karl had the right basketball DNA — his dad is George Karl, coach of the Denver Nuggets —so the Lakers invited him to training camp in the fall of 2007.
In something of a surprise, Karl won the last spot on Phil Jackson’s roster and, not surprisingly, the elder Karl was delighted that his son was an NBA player.
The younger Karl played in only 17 regular-season games for the Lakers in 2007-08 — the same number he played in the D-League that season. But late in games when the new-look Lakers — with Pau Gasol in his first season with the team — built a big lead, a chant would start to build, "We want Coby!" and the fans weren’t talking about Kobe Bryant.
Karl played only in garbage time, but when he scored — he had only 30 points all season — the crowd would whoop it up.
That Lakers team was the surprise of the league and made it to the NBA Finals before losing to the Boston Celtics in six games, and Karl went along for the ride.
The highlight of his career was probably Game 2 of the first round of the 2008 playoffs when the Lakers were about to close out a 122-107 win over the Nuggets, and Karl played the last couple minutes. He didn’t score, but Karl was in the game when the buzzer sounded and father and son embraced on the court.
In October 2008, Karl was cut by Jackson, so he never got a championship ring. After that, Karl had a brief stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.
But he’ll always have that moment to remember at Staple Center: hugging his father, after the Lakers had beaten the Nuggets.