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Jack Dempsey, Associated Press
Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl draws up a play under the light of a flashlight before the start of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Denver, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011.

DENVER — George Karl wasn't being difficult. He just wanted his "glue guy."

And the Denver Nuggets coach certainly wasn't being demanding. He just coveted his underrated center.

That's why Karl pleaded and petitioned with the front office to bring back both guard Arron Afflalo and Brazilian big man Nene.

Management listened and locked them up with five-year deals.

The perfect holiday presents.

To Karl, Afflalo and Nene were the building blocks he needed to make a run at a ninth straight playoff appearance. Karl doesn't require a superstar, just stability. He doesn't need a headliner, only hard workers.