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Karl: TV games produce 'awful feeling'

4/26/2010 - NBA Denver Nuggets

Nuggets coach George Karl, out since March as he fights neck and throat cancer, vowed to return to the NBA as a "better ambassador to the game," saying the treatment was harder than he thought it would be.

Speaking to ESPN's Rick Reilly at Karl's home in Denver on Friday, the upbeat coach said he was taking things day to day in his second battle with the disease, after going through prostate surgery in 2005.

"It's going to take me time to walk through this year," Karl said.

Karl said watching the Nuggets' games from home was an uncomfortable experience.

"It's an awful feeling," he said. "It's not nervousness, it's scared. Fear. I don't like it. I mean, I've missed games, skipped games. I was just too stressed out to worry. The game gets off to a bad start, and I don't watch them at all."

Karl, whose treatment has an 85-90 percent survival rate, said going through it has caused him to better appreciate the value of his daily life.

"We've had family in here probably 80 percent of the days," he said. "I think it just makes you aware of life, what's good in life and how blessed we are.

"You know my thing is, get better, kick ass and go back and serve it better than I did the last time.

"Be a better ambassador to the game of basketball. Be more thankful for the opportunities and the fortunate life I have."

Karl hasn't been on the sideline since a March 16 win over Washington, as he's undergone 36 radiation treatments in addition to chemotherapy at Denver's Swedish Medical Center.

Assistant Adrian Dantley has coached the Nuggets in Karl's absence. There's no timetable for his return, though the team expects Dantley to continue leading the team in the playoffs.

Karl's doctor earlier this month put the chances of the coach returning for the second round at "two-thirds." Dr. Jacques Sarri told AOL Fanhouse that Karl's cancer treatment has been "very positive."

Karl attended the Nuggets' practice Thursday in Denver before their Game 3 loss in Salt Lake City on Friday night. The Jazz lead the series 3-1 after Sunday's 117-106 victory.

"It was good to see him," Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups said. "It [was] good to see him out of the house and around and moving around a little bit. He looked great. Looked like he had some energy. It was just good to see ... When you see somebody going through something like that, you can't help but to not think about any of the things you have going on in your own life. I think, 'It could be a lot worse.' "

Information from ESPN.com TrueHoop blogger Kevin Arnovitz and The Associated Press was used in this report.