NBA champion Nuggets eye dynasty next


Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke raises the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after a 94-89 victory against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2023 NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship at Ball Arena on June 12, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images/AFP

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone is targeting a dynasty after leading the franchise to a first-ever NBA championship on Monday.

The Colorado franchise ended a 47-season wait for glory in the Mile High City on Monday, downing the Miami Heat 94-89 to complete an emphatic 4-1 victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

And with confetti still falling at the Ball Arena, Malone wasted no time in declaring that he wants the Nuggets’ breakthrough first title to be the first of many.

“I’ve got news for everybody out there. We’re not satisfied with one,” Malone said. “We want more.”

Malone said he had taken inspiration from words by Miami and Los Angeles Lakers coaching legend Pat Riley, a five-time champion as head coach.

“Pat Riley said something many years ago,” Malone said. “I used to have it up on my board when I was a head coach in Sacramento, and it talked about the evolution in this game and how you go from a nobody to an upstart, and you go from an upstart to a winner and a winner to a contender and a contender to a champion.

“The last step after a champion is to be a dynasty.”

Malone said he believes the Nuggets have all the pieces in place to follow through on their goal, with a young core of players led by Nikola Jokic all expected to remain with the franchise for several seasons.

“We accomplished something this franchise has never done before, but we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and I think we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we’re capable of on the biggest stage in the world,” Malone said.

Jokic hails team effort

Denver star Nikola Jokic, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, joked he was not looking beyond the off-season.

“I don’t think about the next year,” Jokic said. “I’m going to ask the coach to give me a couple weeks more off so I can be ready for the season.”

But the Serbian ace admitted he had always believed Denver’s entire roster was building something special.

Nikola Jokic Nuggets NBA Finals

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates with his daughter Ognjena after a 94-89 victory against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2023 NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship at Ball Arena on June 12, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images/AFP

“It’s not the starting unit — it’s the whole team,” Jokic said. “Since day one … it was something different about this team.

“I felt it. I felt some different energy and every day since then I had the same feeling. I’m not really optimistic guy, but that gave me hope that we can do something.”

Nuggets forward Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a member of the Los Angeles Lakers championship-winning team in 2020, believes Denver has the quality to keep winning into the future.

“Everybody wants to run it back after you win,” Caldwell-Pope said. “But that’s up to the organization to bring back the players.

“But this team is special. I knew it from training camp, and just been telling them all the way through training camp and the whole season — we can do this.”

Malone, who started his coaching career in his early 20s as an unpaid high school coach, reflected on his journey to the pinnacle of the NBA.

“These moments are surreal. I got in the league 22, 23 years ago, and I dreamed of becoming a head coach,” the 51-year-old said.

“It hasn’t hit me, and I don’t think it’s going to hit me tonight because I’m going to drink too much.”


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