Tim Connelly walked away from Denver. Michael Malone is itching to beat his old basketball brother.


Right up until Tim Connelly scratched a 7-12 months itch and abruptly ended a attractive partnership with Michael Malone to acquire the revenue in Minnesota, they were being inseparable basketball brothers, a entrance-workplace exec and fiery mentor joined at the hip in the quest to make the Nuggets a legit championship contender.

And now?

“I have no pals not on the Denver Nuggets,” Malone mentioned Wednesday.

He was kidding. At the very least I think so. Yes, Malone threw down the gauntlet but punctuated his preventing terms with a chuckle. There are no really hard thoughts involving Connelly and Malone. Right?

Okay, I will permit the mentor describe.

“Let’s be serious … I wouldn’t be the head coach if it wasn’t for Tim Connelly … I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” stated Malone, employed by Connelly in 2015 to set the damaged pieces of the Nuggets with each other yet again, soon after his initially shot at currently being an NBA coach finished 106 game titles into a stint with Sacramento.

Here’s what is no joke: When Connelly still left Denver in late May well to grow to be the roster architect for a division rival, each and every game concerning the Nuggets and Timberwolves bought a full ton juicier.

“They are a division rival,” stated Malone, prior to getting down to the actual nitty-gritty.

“As a lot as we’re heading to miss Tim and his family, it is all about beating them. And being ahead of (the Timberwolves). Exact same detail for Utah, identical issue for Portland, exact same issue for OKC. We want to get back again to remaining a workforce that can earn the division each year, and that will lead to even improved points. We’ve hung a couple of division banners. Now we want to hold a considerably more substantial and extra crucial banner. We glimpse ahead to the online games and the rivalry with the T-wolves.”

So am I the only one particular who finds it amusing that Denver and Minnesota will bump into every single other in Las Vegas on Friday when the groups open up enjoy in the NBA’s summertime league for youthful prospective customers?

Let the hoop hostilities get started.

Will a hockey struggle crack out concerning trash-speaking Nuggets rookie Christian Braun and fellow Kansas Jayhawks alum David McCormack?

Or, soon after the sport, will Connelly wrap his buddies from Denver in a bro hug and buy a round of tequila pictures for them at The Chandelier bar in the Cosmopolitan on the Vegas strip?

Denver would not be anyplace around the championship discussion with out the contributions of Connelly, who drafted middle Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray.

Malone, however, has talked about the next big stage for the Nuggets with Calvin Booth, who has worked hard to make the group mentally tougher and defensively ornerier due to the fact having around Connelly’s purpose in the front place of work.

“I do not want to say: ‘One … two … three … championship!’ Never speak about it. Be about it,’” claimed Malone, a organization believer that a winning frame of mind ought to be more deeply ingrained than the words uttered when the Nuggets crack the huddle.

“Everybody talks about it. But if you occur late to apply or late to the airplane, or you miss a excess weight-space session or miss a therapy session with the trainers, then you’re not getting about it. Any individual can say the phrase championship, but not lots of are eager to do the ideal point each individual working day. That is the issue I’m likely to challenge all our players this year: I really don’t want to hear it. Show me. Each and every solitary day.”

Make no miscalculation. Watching mentor Jared Bednar and the Avalanche deliver house the Stanley Cup to Colorado has Malone fired up, additional identified than ever to assist the Nuggets ascend to the top of the NBA heap.

From drinking a cold 1 tossed at him by an adoring admirer together the parade route to his emotional speech at the championship rally, Malone acknowledged: “Jared set the bar definitely superior.”

“When we win. Fingers crossed, when we acquire it, I’m likely to have to get my game on point,” claimed Malone, dreaming about a victory parade for the Nuggets, standing on a fireplace truck, with “fans throwing me IPAs.”


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