Mike Malone claps back at Lakers talking about Denver Nuggets during media day

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone issued a response to the comments from the Los Angeles Lakers about wanting to face the Nuggets in the 2023-24 season.

Denver knocked the Lakers out of the playoffs in the 2022-23 season, sweeping Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals.

The Nuggets made some comments after winning the NBA Finals that seemed pointed at Los Angeles, and Austin Reaves was one of the Lakers to recently respond.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are also looking for vengeance against the team that knocked them out of the postseason in the 2022-23 campaign.

Malone said that he hasn’t been listening to what the Lakers are saying, also revealing that he has “tremendous respect” for the Lakers and head coach Darvin Ham.

“I can’t speak for anybody in L.A.,” Malone said. “I can speak for the 17 players on our team – 18 players now – and our group. But, if they’re still worried about us, that’s on them.

“This is a new season, new challenge, and it was hell of a series against them. I know it was a 4-0 sweep, but all of those games seemed like they went down to the wire. As I said after that Game 4, we have tremendous respect for that team. I have tremendous respect for Darvin Ham as a coach and the job that he did. I don’t listen to any of that stuff. I don’t know what they’re saying. And if we’re on their minds, then I guess that’s on them.”

Malone seems to be taking an indifferent stance on the rivalry brewing between the Lakers and Nuggets, and he appears to be focused on the 2023-24 season.

There’s no doubt that the Lakers should want revenge against Denver, especially after Malone spent time criticizing the media’s coverage of the Lakers last season. James seemed to take a shot at the Nuggets coach during the offseason in relation to those comments.

While both sides are getting their points across prior to the start of the regular season, all that will eventually matter is how each team performs on the court.

The Nuggets have a great roster headlined by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, but the team did lose two key role players in Jeff Green and Bruce Brown in free agency this offseason.

Meanwhile, the Lakers added to their roster by signing Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish in free agency. The team also brought back Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell.

Both teams are gearing up for a title run, and it’s quite possible they meet in the playoffs once again this season.

For now, the Lakers and Nuggets both need to put their focus on getting ready for the start of the regular season later this month. The first regular season matchup between these two teams is scheduled for opening night on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.