After the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Championship, several members of their organization couldn’t help but take shots at the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals en route to their first title, but seemingly seemed more proud about their win against Los Angeles.
In a wide-ranging interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Jeanie Buss discussed what the team needed to answer following the playoff ouster:
“That’s a basketball question. That’s better answered for Rob and Coach Ham. But generally it’s about answering, ‘What were we missing that we weren’t able to beat Denver? What do we need to shore up? What are the pieces that we need? How do we address those needs?’”
Buss also addressed the comments from the Nuggets and specifically head coach Michael Malone, shrugging it off as nothing more than trash talk:
“(Laughs). It’s just that. I know the emotions they were feeling. [Former Lakers coach] Pat Riley was notorious for putting something out there to motivate his team. If that’s what the coach [Michael Malone] was trying to do, I completely understand it. We’ve experienced those emotions many times in this organization.
“There was no offense. No harm, no foul as Chick [Hearn] would say. Good luck to them. On our path this past year, we knocked off the defending champs [Golden State Warriors]. Denver is now going to have an experience it never had before because they’re wearing the crown. That means everybody is going to be coming after that. That’s part of the NBA landscape. That’s what you have to go through in order to defend your title.”
The Lakers controlling governor also thought it was funny to hear Malone referred to as ‘The Lakers’ Daddy’:
“(Laughs). Yes. I thought it was a very timely pop culture reference to call somebody that. I can take it with the intention that he’s trying to keep his team geared on one of their rivals, which is the Lakers. They know we’re going to be ready for them. He’s got to keep his team motivated with identifying who’s their threat going into the upcoming season.”
Los Angeles has usually taken the high-road when it comes to jabs at the franchise and Buss did well to maintain her composure. The Nuggets have every right to celebrate their championship, but Buss and the Lakers are doing the right thing by focusing on their goal of banner No. 18.
Bruce Brown says Lakers series felt personal to Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Denver had a certain look in their eye when they played L.A. in the Western Conference Finals, and Bruce Brown later admitted that the series felt personal to Nikola Jokic and the rest of the team.
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