Good morning, friends. The coaching staff of the Denver Nuggets wants you to LOOK ALIVE.
According to the description of the clip, which was posted on the team's NuggetsTV YouTube channel, these outbursts are a nightly occurrence. Before each Denver game, when the pregame clock passes the four-minute mark, Nuggets equipment manager Sparky Gonzales yells, "3:59, time to go to work!" That's the cue for Nuggets assistant Chad Iske to follow up with "a guttural scream that typically lasts six to eight seconds." And judging by this video compilation, that's the cue for head coach George Karl to impassively critique Iske's barbaric yawps, decrying their brevity, tone and passion.
According to Nuggets.com's Aaron J. Lopez, Iske's vocal exercises replaced a more physical pregame tension-breaker the Nuggets staff used in years past:
Dressed in suits and ties, Nuggets coach George Karl and members of his coaching staff would lower their shoulders and slam into one another as a final bonding moment in the minutes before tipoff.
"As coaches, you've got to have your energy, you've got to be excited," assistant coach Chad Iske explains. "Hit each other, bang around. We used to have a little mosh pit trying to knock each other off our feet for 10 or 15 seconds and then head out [to the court]."
Unfortunately, Ponyboy, nothing so gold as a pre-tip mosh pit of total adults can stay. As Karl assistants/key moshers Scott Brooks, Bill Branch, Rex Kalamian and Chip Engelland left for other gigs, "the body-slamming [was] replaced by vocal expression."
With five games now under his belt as a Nugget, I say we've got about another week before JaVale McGee is not only joining Iske's scream team, but also bringing the bellow on the court after very JaVale McGee plays like this steal and explosion of Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon.
Moving from restrained salute to full-on seven-second yell seems like the next logical progression in JaVale's post-dunk celebration. (Also: Let's start calling JaVale McGee dunks "post-dunks.")
Neither screams nor steals nor slams could save Denver on Wednesday night, though, as the Nuggets fell to the Raptors, 105-96, in Toronto. Two nights after notching a 17-point win against the East-leading Chicago Bulls, Denver stumbled against Dwane Casey's 17-34 Raptors, especially on the defensive end.
Karl's Nuggets allowed Toronto — the league's fifth-least-efficient offensive outfit — to score at a rate of 112.9 points per 100 possessions. For reference, the league's best offense, the Oklahoma City Thunder, puts up an average of 110.4-per-100. Not only will that kind of defensive performance not get the Nuggets very far in the postseason — with Denver now sitting in ninth place out west behind the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets despite sharing the same 27-24 record (Utah holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Denver, while Houston's got a better winning percentage in its division), it might keep them out of the playoffs entirely.
After the loss, Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo told The Associated Press that "for the past month, we haven't had the proper focus after a good game" like Monday's win over Chicago. Perhaps Sparky Gonzales and Chad Iske need to take their scream meme out to the floor with the team. Couldn't hurt, right?
Is the clip of JaVale-on-Calderon not working for you? Feel free to peruse the facial elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.
Hat-tip to Hooped Up.