His NBA coach of the year trophy sat on a folding chair, the reward for his 1,131 league victories looking lonely in a nearly deserted hallway. Nattily dressed in a suit, George Karl walked through the Nuggets' home arena, itching to start his summer vacation while trying to stay one step ahead of the posse, a basketball mob ticked Denver lost in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Some people want to see me fired," Karl said Wednesday, giving me a nod as a chief detractor. "Led by that guy right there."

Wrong. "Never thought you should be fired," I told Karl.

"OK," Karl said with a grin. "You told me to resign."

Well, that's closer to the truth.

My belief: Karl needs to find himself another job in the Nuggets organization and kick himself off the bench, if he can't find a way to change his coaching tactics and produce consistent playoff success in Denver.

I added: "You've got to change. Or you've got to go. It's your choice, man."

Without a second of hesitation, Karl vowed, "I will change."

Give Karl credit for 57 regular-season victories. Give him applause for beating cancer twice. And give him this: At age 61, Karl wants to win a championship every bit as much as when he was a rookie coach with Cleveland, way back in 1984.

The coach of the year award is cool, with a design that features a sculpture of Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach sitting on a bench.

But the shiny gold basketball of the Larry O'Brien trophy, hugged and kissed by the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant after winning the league championship, is far more beautiful.

"How close," I asked Karl, "are the Nuggets to winning the NBA's biggest prize?"

Karl replied, "I think we're one of the top six teams in the league."

Doing the rankings in my head, I made a list of the NBA's power elite: 1) Miami, for as long as LeBron James keeps his talents parked on South Beach; 2) Oklahoma City, but not until Russell Westbrook returns to health; 3) Chicago, if Derrick Rose ever gets his body and mind right; 4) Memphis, a team that exhibits all the toughness the Nuggets lack; 5) Denver, which goes to prove how much Karl messed up in playoffs; and 6) the Los Angeles Lakers, unless you believe "Mamba" has lost his bite.

"How many years did Michael Jordan play before he won his first playoff round?" Karl asked.

The answer: Four.