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Dan Issel talks Nuggets

July 18th, 2008 by aswitzer
Former Nuggets coach - Dan Issel

Former Nuggets coach - Dan Issel

Earlier this week, I had the fortunate timing of catching two-time Denver Nuggets coach Dan Issel on Denver’s local 104.3 The Fan morning radio show. Here are a few gems that I remember from the rambling conversation and the portion of it I heard on the drive to work:

  • On the 1998 NBA Draft, in which GM Issel drafted Raef LaFrentz with the third pick, in a draft where Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison were still on the board… the Nuggets were ready to draft Paul Pierce on that day (who ended up going to Boston at the 10th pick) but Issel changed his strategy after a conversation with then-Kansas coach Roy Williams. Issel said that Williams basically told him that he wouldn’t touch Pierce with a 10-foot pole based on character issues he saw with him while at Kansas. On the other hand, Williams gave a glowing review of Raef LaFrentz, and since Issel frankly admitted on the radio that he saw quite a bit of himself in Raef, the Nuggets went ahead and drafted Raef with the third pick.  <sarcasm>Thanks Roy!</sarcasm> I had always suspected that Raef was drafted because Issel saw himself in him, but it was interesting to hear this straight from the Horse’s mouth, along with the input from Roy Williams. Of course, Raef might have turned out to be a better pick if he hadn’t suffered that knee injury early in his career – he was never the same player after that.
  • In Dan’s opinion, George Karl has never had the kind of players he’s best at coaching during his time in Denver.
  • Based on the moves we’ve seen so far from the Nuggets front office (Camby trade, letting Najera go to NJ) Issel feel’s that they are still planning to blow up the team further this summer.

Earlier this week, Woody Paige wrote an excellent article on finally forgiving Issel for his passion driven mistake during his second reign as coach of the Nuggets. I can’t think of an article that I have agreed with more from Woody. I’m becoming increasingly unhappy with the three-headed Nuggets brain trust that is running the show – getting Issel associated with the team again would go a long with with restoring a connection between the Nuggets organization and the team’s fans… something that has been getting steadily worse over the past season and a half.

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