A Coby to Root For

By David Scott - May 30, 2007

ORLANDO - Right around the time another Kobe was throwing a controlled hissy fit about his NBA future with Stephen A. Smith on the radio in New Yorfk City, a much more bearable Coby was discussing the cancer that can't keep him from trying to make it to the NBA.

You can have your Kobe Bryant and the soap opera that has been his career. We'll take our Coby Karl and the courageous battle that has brought him to the place where a huge sign greets visitors informing them that "Dreams Come True."

Karl, the 24-year-old son of Denver coach George Karl (a cancer survivor himself), is one of about 60 players on display for the NBA decision-makers this week at Disneyworld. He is neither the most talented nor the most athletically gifted, but if you need a rooting interest for someone who probably deserves a couple of looks from the gathered NBA "experts," the 6-foot-5, 216-pound guard is your boy.

"I'm not going to dunk from half court or do any of the special things," said the Boise State product, who finished third on the school's all-time scoring list after walking on and redshirting in 2002-03. "I just try to play the right way and hopefully that gets me picked somewhere."

Of course Karl does do the special things - just not always on the court. Over the last 13 months he has undergone two cancer-related surgeries, first in 2006 to remove his thyroid and then during this past Final Four to get rid of some cancerous lymph nodes. After both surgeries, he has come back and been stronger and more determined.

"I played [in the NABC All-Star] game [in Atlanta at the Final Four], that night we went out had some fun, partied in Atlanta and the next day I flew home and had surgery the day after that," said Karl who is being discussed as a late second round pick at this point. "It was like my last day of freedom.

"[So] stuff like this [camp] - it's just ablessing," said Karl who was 3 of 4 from 3-point land in his lone game on Wednesday and finished with 11 points and six assists for the victorious Team 6. "I woke up this morning and told my roommate, 'Isn't this is great? We're in orlando at a four star hotel and we're playing basketball.' Things like that you look at it and you just really enjoy it.

"This is probably the best I've felt in two or three years, my body fat is down my legs are back. For me, I know I'm fine and I know I'm healthier than I've ever been. You can't really control cancer and I understand the concern (NBA teams may have) and I'll have my doctor write up something on it. I just think positively - it's one thing telling GMs I'm fine but it's another thing when the doctors explain the ins and outs and give the medical support."

Karl's even got a couple of scars on his neck from the surgeries that he now wears as a badge of honor.

"I'm proud of the scars, I think both are pretty cool but maybe I'm weird," he said. "It's a pretty gnarly scar. My favorite picture to show people is when I had staples in both and had two drainage tubes coming out of my neck. It's something to show people and hopefully it makes me tougher.

"I just keep my head down and keep working hard and usually things work out if you do that," Karl said.

Makes you wonder if the OTHER Kobe would even understand those words.

Posted by David Scott at 04:39 PM on May 30, 2007

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