Michael Malone & Nuggets Continue To Focus On Lakers After Winning NBA Championship
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are the 2023 NBA champions, securing their first title in franchise history after defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. On their way to their franchise-best season, they took down the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in a four-game sweep.

Throughout the Conference Finals, it was apparent that the Nuggets harbored a resentment of L.A. Head coach Michael Malone frequently vented his frustration at the media coverage the Lakers were getting as opposed to his team, wanting the focus to be squarely on the winning Denver side.

It appears that frustration has boiled over even after winning the NBA championship. The Nuggets celebrated their victory with a parade in downtown Denver on Thursday, and the Lakers were mentioned on several occasions. Malone also poked fun at LeBron James, joking about potentially retiring in an appearance on the Pat McAfee show:

The Lakers are no stranger to the one-sided rivalry, when a team has a bias or agenda against L.A. that is simply not reciprocated. But the Nuggets have continued to force the issue even weeks after defeating the Lakers in the postseason.

On one hand, the Nuggets have suffered plenty of postseason hurt because of the Lakers, and to beat them on the way to their first championship in franchise history must be an exorcising of franchise demons. With that, it would be natural to bring up the Lakers routinely.

However, the Nuggets should be able to enjoy their NBA championship without needing to bring up the Lakers, especially as the Lakers weren’t the team they defeated in the NBA Finals. Their focus should more prominently be on the Heat. Instead, their focus on L.A. further emphasizes the one-sided nature of the rivalry.

Nuggets and Bucks early 2024 title favorites

In the first round of future betting on the 2023-24 NBA championship, it should come as no surprise that the two favorites are the reigning champion Nuggets and the 2022-23 favorite Milwaukee Bucks, who were bounced in the first round by the Heat after Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a back injury in Game 1.

The Lakers rank seventh on this favorites list and fourth in the Western Conference, behind the Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.

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