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The values ​​of altruism at the heart of the Nuggets project

If Mike Malone, Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray were already there in 2020 during the formidable epic of the Nuggets in the “bubble”, others left under other skies during this superb climb to the heights. It’s what brought back Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon, and built this squad, number 1 in the Western Conference and first runner-up 2023. Tuesday night is Jamal Murray who wanted to pay tribute to this journey and to those who contributed to it.

“It’s amazing to be here, especially with the core of guys we’ve had here from the start. What we’ve built, since Gary, since Paul, since Monte… All the guys who embodied this culture… Having this team and seeing everyone come together, especially with eight new guys coming to the start of the season. It took us a bit of time to find our rhythm, but once we knew what everyone was going to do and we found our way of playing, we had the click. It was a real obstacle course. It’s nice to finally get to this point and be the first team in Nuggets history to do so. »

There’s a reason behind every Nuggets rookie

For Mike Malone, altruism is the first quality of the stars of the Nuggets, but also of the workforce and therefore of the franchise. No one pulls the cover on themselves, and Nikola Jokic never puts himself forward.

“I think it shows how selfless our group is. Nikola would be the first to admit that he’s not going to win a potential playoff game, series, or championship on his own. One player is not enough” comments the Denver coach. “Obviously Jamal played phenomenally in his first playoffs since his knee injury, but Jamal knows that too. There was a reason we got Kentavious Caldwell-Pope back. We did a trade for Aaron a few years ago and there was a reason for that too. There was a reason we signed Bruce Brown in free agency. »

Exchanges and a meticulous “free agency” to build a workforce where the players are one. “It’s just a great mix!” » summarizes Aaron Gordon. “It’s a great group of guys. The camaraderie is there, the cohesion is there, the talent is there, the game intelligence is there, the altruism is there… We really are like brothers. We really act for each other. It’s rare. It’s rare in the NBA to have a group of selfless players who buy in and really go out of their way for the guy on their side. »

High quality leaders: Karnisovas, Connelly, Booth

This altruism is embodied by Nikola Jokic, this pivot who does not jump high and who is not the fastest, but who transforms the attack of the Nuggets with his passes and his reading of the game.

The leaders had decided to make room for him by transferring Jusuf Nurkic. It was a first stroke of genius, and they then surrounded him with players who could speak the same language, but also fill in his gaps in defense or take advantage of his quarterback passes. Like Aaron Gordon precisely, who blended into the landscape, and Mike Malone even believes that the former Magic dunker is the symbol player of his team.

“The little things he does are big things” he explained after Game 3. “Aaron is a guy who always goes unnoticed. If you want to talk about a guy who really embodies a big part of our culture about selflessness, Aaron Gordon is the perfect example. He put his ego aside. He knew that this year, with the return of Jamal and Michael, his role would be different, and he never fought against that. On the contrary, he accepted it. He was like, ‘Okay, I want to win a title. I want to help everyone in this locker room win a championship, and to do that, I have to be the best in this role – defending, rebounding, offensive rebounding, creating for others. His impact on the playoffs against Minnesota, Phoenix and now the Lakers is palpable. We wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Aaron Gordon’s play, attitude and selflessness. »

Finally, we must not forget the architects of this workforce. There were Arturas Karnisovas and Tim Connelly, today at the Bulls and the Wolves, and it is now Calvin Booth who embodies this quality of recruitment, whether it is “free agency” or the Draft.

“Calvin is very, very, very important for what we produce every night on the pitch” insists Mike Malone. “Having him come forward after Arturas left in Chicago and then Tim in Minnesota was very important to me because he had been there for four or five years. I told Josh (Kroenke, the owner) when Tim left, ‘I have a feeling Calvin is more than ready to lead this franchise. » And he was right.

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