The Nuggets players chanting “1-2-3… Six weeks” is the epitaph of this horrible 2014-2015 season for the Nuggets. It symbolized the problems that went on with the players and Shaw. It cost Nuggets coach Brian Shaw his job.
It wasn’t what Nuggets president Josh Kroenke envisioned when he hired Shaw to start the new era of Nuggets basketball. He wanted to have the Nuggets run a halfcourt offense that is suitable for playoff basketball, and he thought Shaw could have done that after working with Phil Jackson as Lakers assistant coach. That experiment obviously failed.
The “1-2-3 … Six Weeks” chant brought memories about Nuggets players revolting against then-Nuggets head coach Dan Issel. They staged a boycott by skipping practice a day after the Nuggets came home from a four-game road trip in 2000. It was hard for Issel to win his players back after that, and he eventually resigned in 2001 after he was suspended for making an ethnic remark to a fan after a Nuggets loss. Shaw’s players made that chant to show how much they despised their head coach and how much they wanted this season to be over with.
The Nuggets could not keep Shaw anymore after Denver Post beat writer Chris Dempsey reported about that chant from Friday night’s game between the Nuggets and Jazz in Sunday’s paper. It would have been awkward for him to coach his players after this report came out. It would not have been right for him to deal with his players. It would not be fair for Nuggets fans to watch this.
It should have never come down to what happened last Friday in the first place. Shaw should have been fired last month when he admitted the players quit on him. That should have been the last straw. He couldn’t have expected his players to play for him after he made his comment. The players acted accordingly by playing lackadaisical basketball.
The Nuggets kept Shaw only because they didn’t want to admit they screwed up firing George Karl. They hoped he would have grown into the job by establishing better rapport with the players and developing players such as Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson. They hope he would have figured it out. It never clicked.
Let’s face it. Shaw never had a chance. He did not have a star player he could count on to win games. His players were not good enough to run a halfcourt offense after being used to run up and down on offense, and they were not going to make an adjustment for him. They weren’t happy Karl was fired, so he was going to have a hard time winning them over.
It wasn’t good for Shaw when Lawson chafed about running a halfcourt offense in last year’s training camp. It went downhill for the rookie head coach last year when Andre Miller yelled at him at a Nuggets game after getting his first DNP-CD of his career. That was when he lost his players altogether after they thought he disrespected Miller for giving him a DNP-CD.
Shaw tried as hard as he could to earn the trust of his players. It never happened. Faried was pouting in the bench at games, and Lawson was so fed up with his coach that he skipped practice after the All-Star break.
One can’t help but feel bad for Shaw. He was put in a position to fail by incorporating his offense with George Karl’s players, and we all know how that worked out. The players should have behaved like professionals and play for Shaw rather than act like entitled brats.
The players can deny all they want that they did not quit on Shaw, but when they played with a purpose in giving interim head coach Melvin Hunt his first win in the Nuggets’ 106 -95 victory over the Bucks, it’s clear they quit on Shaw.
It puts the Nuggets back to a place they didn’t want to be in. They are terrible and dysfunctional. Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly and Kroenke did not answer questions about why Shaw was fired, and the players are running the asylum. It’s like the old days under Issel again.
This franchise is a mess, and it won’t get better for the next few years. They need to start over and tank for the next few years in order to get good players in the draft.
Kroneke will have to find a new general manager soon. Connelly has no idea how to find talent or build a team. It’s hard to trust him in overseeing a rebuilding project.
It remains to be seen if Kroenke knows what he is doing in finding the right general manager.
It remains to be seen if he knows how to run a basketball franchise.
He didn’t behave like a leader yesterday by hiding from the media rather than answer to the public.
The Nuggets have no answers on and off the court.
They are back to being in the NBA wasteland.
They can’t deny it, either. No matter hard they try.
It’s like old times again.
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