One of the fun parts of watching the Nuggets winning the title last year was seeing their head coach Michael Malone talk all kinds of shit along the way.
I think it's fair to suggest that during their entire run, the Lakers shit really got under his skin. Every media outlet/talking head on TV/Twitter etc would rather give credit to the Lakers in a loss than give the Nuggets any sort of credit for a win. It was pretty bizarre at the time because it wasn't as if the Nuggets were some sort of surprise team. They were the best in the West all year. They have the best player on the planet. But we all know how things work when it comes to narratives and the Lakers.
So after promptly sweeping LA and eventually winning the title, of course everyone around the Nuggets didn't forget about that LA series
I mean, Vic Lombardi wasn't wrong. For the millionth time, when you sweep someone and then go on to win the title, I'm a firm believer in you can say whatever the hell you want. That's the beauty of being the champs, everyone else just has to sit and take it, or they could cry about it.
Since that moment, it's clear that the Lakers are now obsessed with the Nuggets. That's a dynamic I don't think anyone could have seen coming, but that's where we are entering 2023-24
Part of me thinks there's something to the idea that the Lakers are doing all this talking now because deep down their insecure when it comes to trying to beat the defending champs. Something along the lines of the loudest in the room being the most insecure. Why do I think that? Well all you have to do is listen to Michael Malone addressing all this Lakers talk
ESPN- "Oh, they're talking about us? That was what, four months ago?" Malone said after practice at the Nuggets' training camp at UC San Diego. "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."
Woof. Malone hit them with the "You're obsessed with us and we're not even thinking about you" move. That's tough. He basically then went on to say he doesn't even really view the Lakers as a rival, which was another twist of the knife. Talking about how the Lakers are still living in the past and the defending champs are focused on this season and repeating was probably the death blow.
What I loved about his response was that he wasn't disrespectful and still took his shots, but he also didn't need to be. When one side is talking all this shit about "what's coming" and how they "can't wait to play you" and your response is to basically say who gives a shit we're not worried or even thinking about you, I mean there's no really coming back from that. You were unfortunately once again buried by this coach/team.
To me, there's no way this is fully true though. You know deep down Malone hates the Lakers and is happy they're still thinking about him and his team. I guarantee they've talked about how sweet it's going to be to kick their ass again this year. Given their series and then all the shit talking at the parade followed by all this crying and empty threats from the Lakers side this summer, those matchups should be must watch stuff this season.
With the Lakers largely considered a team that had one of the better offseasons in the league, there's certainly no excuse this time around. All I know is you can't talk that way this summer and then not be able to back it up, and remember these two teams face off to open the season. The Nuggets are going to raise their banner and get their rings right in the Lakers face, and then we'll see just how ready LA is to handle the defending champs.