The Denver Nuggets, in their first home game of the season, are putting on a Fan Fest that will include appearances by Nuggets legends Byron Beck, David Thompson, Dan Issel, Alex English, Dikembe Mutombo, and Nuggets former head coach Doug Moe; all of whom will be in attendance for the Nuggets matchup with the Sacramento Kings.
After losing to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night last season, the same night that Denver retired Mutombo’s jersey and raised it to the rafters, Malone seems intent on coming away victorious with all of the Denver Nuggets legends in attendance especially considering that Mutombo still pokes fun at Malone for ‘ruining his night’.
“We were up eight with a minute to go and Dikembe Mutombo keeps reminding me that I ruined his night,” Malone explained. “His kids were crying!”
Now, Malone and the Nuggets have an opportunity to redeem themselves with Mutombo, among others, in attendance for the Nuggets matchup with the Kings in what Malone expects to be “another great crowd like we had last year on opening night.” That extra energy in the Pepsi Center has been lacking over the past four seasons and will be a welcomed change.
“I think our players are really excited to open up our season at home, get our first win, and hopefully put on a special performance for the legends that will be in the building tonight because of all of the things they have done for this organization over many many years,” Malone said to the media at shootaround on Saturday morning.
One of the more interesting aspects of having all of the Nuggets’ legends back in Denver is that the current Nuggets team had the opportunity to mingle with the Nuggets’ greats at a meet and greet on Friday night. Combining the current young and up-and-coming Nuggets roster with Denver’s historically great players led to some fantastic stories.
“It was amazing,” Malone explained. “I am going to be really honest; I wanted to get home and watch the Dallas versus Sacramento game. When I got over there and spent time with Byron Beck, Alex English, David Thompson, Dan Issel and Doug Moe, man, it was special and I am not just saying that. I wound up staying a lot longer than I anticipated because I was having such a good time.”
One of the best stories of the night was when Nikola Jokic was given the opportunity to meet Thompson. Malone was walking Jokic around to each of the Nuggets’ legends and once they came to Thompson, Jokic did not need an introduction as to who he was meeting.
“I brought Nikola Jokic over to meet a bunch of them and when I brought him over to meet David Thompson, I didn’t realize Nikola was a student of the game like he was,” Malone explained. “So before David said anything Nikola said, ‘the Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan’. That blew David away and blew me away a little bit.”
The fact that the Nuggets are putting an emphasis on honoring their past as a franchise is already a great thing to see. It is even more terrific to see the present of the Nuggets mesh and connect with the past greats that built the Nuggets storied franchise. Incorporating the Nuggets historic past with their newly found youthful success will hopefully leave a long-lasting positive effect on the young Denver Nuggets roster and coaching staff.
“I thought it was a great evening,” Malone said. “I was so thankful for all of those guys to come here for opening night and be around our team last night. It really was a special night.”