Coby Karl admits he woke up Saturday feeling a little nervous.
What was ahead wasn’t on the level of his first NBA game or any winter night suiting up for Boise State. No, it was 3-on-3 basketball he was preparing for, the annual BAM Jam event held in Downtown Boise.
“I don’t think I’d played 3-on-3 since I was in sixth grade,” Karl said. “Every time as a professional that you step on the court, wherever it is, your reputation is on the line, and you have to respect the game.”
Karl, who played for the Broncos from 2003-07 and is the school’s No. 4 all-time leading scorer, teamed up with Boise State assistant coach John Rillie and former Broncos Rob Heyer and Mark Sanchez on the Walking Buckets squad, which plays in the men’s 6-foot-and-over elite division.
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It was the first time Karl played in BAM Jam, in its eighth year, but he figured it was due time to take part once Rillie asked him to play.
“I decided not to play (pro) next year, so it was a good opportunity to get out there with these guys ... and play in this, because I’ve been to it almost every year but haven’t played,” Karl said.
Last season, Karl played seven games for the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League after playing with a German team. He played in 24 NBA games for the Lakers, Cavaliers and Warriors in the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons.
He hopes to pursue his next venture in a field where his last name is well-known: coaching.
Karl’s father, George, is the head coach of the Sacramento Kings and has coached five other NBA teams, with 1,142 regular-season wins (sixth all-time). Karl said coaching really became intriguing five years ago, when he took part in a coaching program through the NBA Players Association at a camp for the top 100 high school players. He has done it twice more.
“I always thought it was something I might do,” Karl said. “I don’t think I have to do it. I want to because I found out I loved it.”
Finding a job in pro basketball is Karl’s hope. He hasn’t found his first one yet, but said he likely will get his start in the D-League.
Rillie, who joked that his kids won’t eat for a month because of the amount he had to pay Karl to play, is confident Karl has what it takes to be a success.
“He’s been around our program the last few summers, and I’m pretty confident he’ll be an NBA head coach someday,” Rillie said. “Genetics will play a little part, but he’s forged his own way. He’s got the passion and the IQ to do it.”
After spending most of his life preparing for the grind of being a player, Karl is ready for the other side. He knows the realities all too well.
“I lived with it my whole life, so I have a good idea what I’m getting into,” Karl said. “I think my mom wasn’t as sure about it as my dad was, but I played for 12 pro teams in eight years, so coaching’s more stable by comparison.”