SEATTLE -- George Karl was on the bench for his first game as the Seattle SuperSonics' head coach last night, and the amazing part was that he stayed awake for all 48 minutes.
A weary Karl arrived in Seattle just after midnight Wednesday on a 24-hour flight from Madrid, Spain. After a few hours of sleep, he worked out an undisclosed contract with Sonics president Bob Whitsitt later in the morning, then was introduced to the players after the team worked out.
Karl, 40, had said he would let interim coach Bob Kloppenburg, the club's scout, do most of the coaching against the Blazers -- but was up and shouting instructions to his players in the dramatic fourth quarter. Seattle fell to the Portland Trail Blazers, 113-109.
Karl, who walked out on a two-year contract with Spanish team Real Madrid on Monday, said taking over the Sonics was a rare opportunity.
"As a friend of mine in Spain said, 'The train doesn't come by the house very often, you better get on it,' " said Karl, whose father and sister live in Marysville, Wash. "I feel in a lot of ways like I've won the lottery. This is special."
Karl, a former head coach at Cleveland and Golden State, was the only one of three Seattle finalists to be interviewed by Whitsitt in person. The other two finalists were believed to be Bill Musselman, ex-Minnesota Timberwolves coach, and Paul Silas, New York Knicks assistant and ex-Sonic.