The Denver Nuggets are celebrating the franchise’s first NBA title, but their Western Conference final boss still seems to be the focus.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone hinted at LeBron James: “The Pat McAfee Showon Wednesday. When Malone was asked about the coverage Denver received during his win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, Malone had a cheeky comeback.
“Speaking of the Lakers, I just want you guys to know that this is breaking news: I’m thinking about retiring. Just kidding, just kidding.”
This, of course, was a nod to James saying he was considering retiring following the Lakers’ 113-111 Game 4 loss this offseason. James, who was an official starter at the Le Mans 24 Hours in France, caught wind of the joke and responded with an Instagram post.
Malone criticized the lack of attention Denver and eventual Finals MVP Nikola Jokic received throughout the series.
“Everybody was just talking about the Lakers,” Malone said after Denver’s 108-103 win in Game 2. “Let’s face it, that was a national narrative: The Lakers were doing fine. They’re 1-0 down but they figured something out. No one spoke about Nikola simply putting on a historic performance.”
“The National Narrative [after Game 1] was that the Lakers were fine. … Nobody talked about the fact that Nikola simply made a historic achievement. … The narrative wasn’t about the nuggets.”
– Nuggets HC Michael Malone pic.twitter.com/zUSjByjZMf
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 19, 2023
“What he’s doing is just amazing, but the narrative wasn’t about the nuggets. The narration was not about Nikola. The narrative revolved around the Lakers and their adaptations. So you put that in your pipe, smoke it, you come back and you know what, we’re going to go 2-0 up.
The shirt Malone wore during the Denver parade had the same message.
Confirmed: Parade ready 😤 pic.twitter.com/Iho6GBFSiu
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 15, 2023
James and Malone’s relationship dates back to when both were employees of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James was drafted by his home team in 2003 and Malone was an assistant coach for Cleveland from 2005-2010. During that time, the Cavaliers made five straight playoff appearances, including their first NBA Finals appearance in 2007.