Nuggets Find a Way to Be Even More Terrible, Tony Kornheiser Says

The Denver Nuggets were prominently featured on yesterday's episode of Pardon the Interruption.

But not for a happy reason.

In his introduction to the program, Tony Kornheiser, co-host, with Michael Wilbon, of this longtime staple of ESPN (new home for Denver Post photo boss Tim Rasmussen, whose goodbye gift was a "FUCK ESPN" cake), said, "The Nuggets find a way to be even more terrible."

This achievement couldn't have been easy during a season so dismal that Denver head coach Brian Shaw was fired earlier this month.

Still, the Nugs have made plenty of inexplicable decisions of late, with the most recent being the decision to sit healthy players during at least two recent games — the move that provoked Kornheiser's ire.

Throughout the season, Kornheiser has been highly critical of coaches like the San Antonio Spurs' Greg Popovich, who've done the same thing.

In the case of Popovich, however, the choice was about keeping aging stars such as Tim Duncan fresh for a playoff push.

That's not a factor for the Nuggets, who'll only reach the postseason if all the other squads in the NBA's Western Conference mysteriously vanish.

Indeed, the only good that can come out of this misbegotten season for Denver would be a high pick in the next NBA draft — and the worse the Nuggets do, the more likely this goal is to be realized.

Had team execs been more serious about this approach a few weeks back, however, they would have retained Shaw's services for the remainder of the campaign. After all, his players absolutely quit on him, as was abundantly clear to anyone (like yours truly) who attended a February 27 abomination against the Utah Jazz.

Instead, they prematurely kicked Shaw to the curb and temporarily handed his job to interim head coach Melvin Hunt, who messed up the situation by inspiring the team to several victories after a string of desultory defeats.

Management has now apparently realized how counterproductive triumphs are at this point. On Sunday, as Yahoo! Sports points out, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and Darrell Arthur were asked to warm the bench against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The remaining ballers messed up this plan by beating the Pelicans in double overtime — so the powers-that-be doubled down for a Monday contest against the Memphis Grizzlies. On that night, Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari all warmed the pine. And this time, the Nugs did manage to lose.

In Kornheiser's view, teams that sit healthy players are ripping off ticket buyers who paid big money to see superstars. That's not so much the case with the Nuggets, a team not exactly blessed with luminaries — and while locals would have been disappointed not to see Faried, Lawson and Gallinari in action, the Memphis match-up was on the road.

Instead, team overseer Josh Kroenke seems to have belatedly realized that the Nuggets should be tanking for strategic reasons — and why it took him so long to catch on doesn't speak well of his basketball IQ.

In any event, Kornheiser is right: The Nuggets have found a way to be even more terrible. Congratulations!
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts