Treasure Valley basketball fans have been watching Coby Karl and Jason Ellis for years.
Ellis began playing for Boise State in 2001, while Karl became a Bronco in 2003. Ellis has played in four different seasons with the Idaho Stampede, and Karl has played in three seasons with the team.
"We both have played in front of Boise fans for a long time," Ellis said.
But as the Stampede play their final game of the season Saturday night, a cold reality has set in for the two players.
"It's going to be tough, playing probably our last game with the Stampede," Ellis said. "But we'll just have to enjoy it."
Neither player will be hanging up their basketball shoes for good. But both said they'll be looking at other opportunities, particularly overseas, after this season.
"This will probably be my last stint in the D-League," Karl said. "Unless at the end of my career I come back from Europe or something."
Whatever the future may hold, both players said they were fortunate to play so many games in front of appreciative fans.
"Everywhere I've gone, people have come up to me and told me that they enjoyed watching me play," Ellis said. "That always makes you feel good. I graduated eight years ago, but people still remember when I played at Boise State, and it's kind of cool. My oldest boy will say, 'Hey, Dad, people still remember you!' "
Coach Mike Peck is in his first season coaching the Stampede, but he said he quickly learned about the relationship between the fans and Ellis and Karl.
"There's a familiarity with those guys, so there's a connection," he said. "But there's also an appreciation for guys that play that way, the right way. You appreciate those guys because they give an honest effort, and it's real."
Karl, the son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, grew up around basketball. But he wasn't sure where the game was going to take him when he was younger.
"For me, coming in as a walk-on my first year at Boise State, and not knowing where my career was going to end up, I've just been fortunate to play professional basketball, period," he said. "And to play as long as I have and to play a couple of years in front of these fans is special for me. It's even more special that I have a guy like Jason to be teammates with."
GAME NOTES: Karl had 17 points, six rebounds and four assists as Idaho (18-31) defeated the Los Angeles D-Fenders 125-101 in front of an announced crowd of 4,013 at CenturyLink Arena. It was the most points Idaho has scored this season, and the largest crowd the team has drawn. Durrell Summers had a game-high 27 points for the Stampede, who had seven players score in double figures. Two Stampede players had double-doubles: Reggie Hamilton (12 points, 10 assists) and Sean Evans (10 points, 11 rebounds).
Chris Langrill: 377-6424