Nuggets coach Michael Malone was tired of hearing about the Lakers long before winning the 2023 NBA title.
Now, he’s hearing about them again.
If you remember, Malone complained loudly about how all the media attention seemed to be on the Lakers losing, as opposed to the Nuggets winning, during the Western Conference Finals last season.
The Nuggets won in a sweep and frankly, Malone wasn’t really wrong. The Lakers do tend to get most of the attention. That tends to happen when LeBron James is on your team.
But the talk is back, and this time, it started with the Lakers themselves — as Anthony Davis and James have both said they very much look forward to facing the Nuggets this season.
Malone heard about it.
“Oh, they’re talking about us? That was what, four months ago?” Malone told reporters from Nuggets training camp at UC San Diego, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I can’t speak for anybody in L.A. But if they’re still worried about us, that’s on them.
“This is a new season, a new challenge, and it was a hell of a series against them. I know it was a 4-0 sweep, but all those games seemed like they went down to the wire. We have tremendous respect for that team. I have tremendous respect for Darvin Ham as a coach and the job that he did. But yeah, 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.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we may have a new NBA rivalry. It used to be James’ Cavaliers vs. the Warriors. So James is still involved as now the league’s oldest player.
And what do you know, the Nuggets and Lakers just happen to square off in the season opener on Oct. 24.
Then again, maybe the Lakers and Nuggets only have a beef. It’s not a rivalry if you ask Malone.
“I mean, you can’t play a team in the Western Conference finals twice in the last couple of years and think it’s a rivalry,” he said.
“When I think of rivalry, I think Boston-L.A. I think of the Knicks and the Miami Heat back in the day. But I don’t welcome it or not welcome it [with the Lakers]. I’m on 2023-’24. I’m not living four months ago.”