While Nuggets new head coach was making media rounds today, I was doing my best to stalk those interviews, and listen to what the new coach had to say. During Hour 3 of The Drive with Darren McKee and Alfred Williams, Williams asked Malone to describe his ideal historical NBA player, with the caveat that he not say Michael Jordan or any other NBA great.
Instead of playing along, Malone took the time to freestyle on the type of guys he wants on his teams. Here is what he described, and if you want to hear him discuss Ty Lawson and much more - I highly recommend listening to the entire interview (about 15 minutes). This was a can't miss part, for me:
"I love guys that play hard every night, and that may sound very simple, but playing hard is a skill in the NBA, and people don't realize that. We look at shooting, or passing, and rebounding, as skills. The ability to play hard every night as an individual and as a team is very very important. So, I want guys that take that to heart and bring the effort every night. I don't want to have to sit there and have to motivate you 82 nights a year. I don't want to have to sit there and hope you're going to show up and play hard. I want to know every night, whether you're going to make or miss a shot, I know for a fact that you're going to bring your A-game and you're going to give great effort. So, I love guys that work hard.
"I love unselfish guys. Guys that are willing to give up their body. Guys that are willing to make plays for their teammates. Unselfish. I think that does a lot for team chemistry. Nothing really eats away at team chemistry, and unity, than selfishness - guys that look people off and shoot the ball, and take bad shots. That divides a team so quickly, and I don't want that on our team.
"Hardworkers. I want guys that are tough. Not only physically tough, but also mentally tough. Can we go on the road and win a game in overtime, when all the odds are stacked against us? Toughness. A lot of times, even when I was recruiting in college, I would prefer a tougher guy than a guy who may be more skilled because I know that guy is going to allow us to win some games when the going gets tough. And those guys are worth a lot in the NBA.
"And you always like guys that have a high basketball IQ. Guys that know the game, have a feel for the game, and are able to pick things up quickly.
"I hope those traits that I just mentioned kind of give you an idea of some of the things that I love. I like guys that play with a passion, to be real simple, that love the game of basketball, and go out every night and play with a passion. Because I think the fans can relate to that, and that they are very proud of a team that goes out there and plays hard and plays with a passion that they should."
We can call the above coach-speak, but it just came off so well stated and uninterrupted that I wanted to share it. Really sounds like Malone would be a guy that could fire a team up, and get guys to want to play for him.