His team won  57 games this season, best in franchise history. His team earned another trip to the playoffs. He was named the NBA  Coach of the Year.  Now, George Karl is out as head coach of the Denver Nuggets.

Karl had one year remaining on his contract with the Nuggets, and reportedly was looking to get an extension in Denver. He also had expressed an interest in the L.A. Clippers job, which only created more uncertainty with the Nuggets. The Nuggets chose to let Karl go rather than wait.

Karl ltweeted: "It's a sad day for me, my staff and my family. Difficult decision to understand but memories with the Nuggets are the best I've ever had."

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Karl has been at the helm for 81/2 seasons in Denver, and always seemed to be able to field a competitive team, even after the Nuggets dealt their star player Carmelo Anthony. He has done a lot, with seemingly very little. You could always count on the Nuggets reaching the playoffs, even if you knew they weren't a serious threat to reach the finals. Even the one year they reached the conference finals against the Lakers, most fans knew it wasn't in the cards for the Nuggets.

It looked like this year might be different - until their second leading scored Danilo Gallinari went down with a knee injury in the final week of the season, putting him out for the rest of the year. Nuggets' fans were still hopeful their team could pull off the unthinkable, play beyond themselves, and somehow will themselves to the finals without Gallinari. The Golden State Warriors ended that hope in the opening round of the playoffs when the knocked off the Nuggets, the #3 seed in the Western Conference.

In 8-plus seasons in Denver, Karl's teams never had a losing record, and never missed the playoffs, but only made it past the first round one time.

Karl's biggest battle came in 2005 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He spent time away from the team for treatment, and beat the cancer and was able to continue coaching the Nuggets on a full-time basis.

The search for a new coach is underway. Karl has brought this franchise to the thresh hold of an NBA title. Maybe his successor will get them through the door and bring a long-awaited NBA championship to the mile high city and the state of Colorado.