Keep Denver Bzzzzng

Apr 192004
Authors: Andrew Woerpel

There has been speculation as of late that the Denver Nuggets

are contemplating giving head coach Jeff Bzdelik a pink slip.

What a reward to give the man who completed the greatest

turnaround for a team that won under 20 games the previous season.

The Nuggets 26-game turnaround has astonished every analyst in the

world. No one gave the Nuggets, or their second-year coach, a


Funny how that second-year coach, Bzdelik, brought the team to

its first playoff birth in nine years.

Why would the Nuggets fire a guy who, in only his second year

coaching, took a team that only won 17 games last year and turned

it into a true playoff contender?

It has been said the Nuggets management wants to seek a coach

with experience. The only coaches I can think of that they would

have a shot at would be Doc Rivers, George Karl and, a long shot,

Pat Riley.

Let me just start by saying Doc Rivers would be a terrible

choice. He led the Orlando Magic straight into the ground this

year, starting with a 1-10 record. That 1-10 record ended up

costing him his job. How could Rivers let his team have as terrible

of a record as he did when the Magic have, quite possibly, the best

player in the game in Tracy McGrady?

George Karl has never had any playoff success. In reality he’s

never had any success. Need I remind you rusty Nuggets fans that

the ’94 Nuggets team, seeded No. 8, beat the best team in

basketball, the top-seeded Sonics, who happened to be coached by

none other than George Karl. That was the first time a No. 8 seed

had ever beaten a No. 1 in the playoffs. Karl also folded in the

most recent world championships in basketball, leading the United

States to its first loss ever since the installment of NBA players

on an Olympic or world championship squad. The United States didn’t

even make the medal ceremonies under Karl, which is unheard of. If

the Nuggets would like to stay a mediocre team, I say Karl is their


As for Riley, who needs him when we already have him? What I

mean is Bzdelik studied under Riley during the future Hall of

Famer’s tenure in Miami. Bzdelik was right there with him as his

assistant coach from 1995-2001. Riley was Bzdelik’s mentor for

close to eight years. Riley is considered one of the best coaches

in NBA history, having won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in

1990, 1993 and 1997, so I feel pretty confident in having his

prot�g� taking charge of the Nuggets.

Bzdelik may only have two years of coaching experience under his

belt, but he’s made advancements in the league in other ways. In

Sports Illustrated’s 1998 Pro Basketball issue he was voted the

NBA’s best advance scout by league general managers. In 2000, USA

Today recognized him as one of the NBA’s top five assistant

coaches. Bottom line is the guy knows basketball and can flat out

coach. It would be a travesty and a terrible mistake if the Nuggets

let him go.

Word to the wise, Kiki Vandeweghe: Don’t get rid of the leader

on this team. Players may perform, but it takes a great coach to

get the best out of everyone, and that’s exactly what Bzdelik


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