OAKLAND, Calif. – Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw was about to depart from his off-season home more than two hours after a team-bonding barbeque late Tuesday afternoon when his intuition stopped him.
The Nuggets players had departed earlier on the team bus, but something told Shaw to check his backyard terrace before he locked up and left for the team hotel in San Francisco. To Shaw's surprise, he found Nuggets guard Evan Fournier sound asleep with potential danger nearby.
"I locked up everything, and everything seemed in order before I was going to walk out," Shaw told Yahoo Sports. "I went on the deck to make sure there weren't any bottles or plates laying around. I saw a leg and a hat on one of the chaise lounges outside. I went over and he was knocked out.
"I woke him up and told him, 'The bus left over an hour ago.' The crazy thing is had I not done that sweep he would have been locked out on my back patio and his cell phone wouldn't have any service or any juice."
Had Shaw not discovered Fournier, he would have been locked outside with the coach's two watchdogs looming nearby. Shaw said "something crazy" could have happened. Fournier, 21, called it a "funny story," but there wouldn't have been much laughter if Shaw hadn't found the Frenchman.
"I have the protection dogs and the players were trying to see them and they were agitating my dogs," Shaw said. "One of my dogs had actually jumped over the fence and onto my courtyard. [Fournier] would've been stuck out there with them."
Said Fournier: "He saved my life." Fournier had not felt well for days and even vomited during the Nuggets' late morning practice Tuesday at nearby Oracle Arena. But Shaw made Fournier and the rest of his players feel at home at his house for a post-practice lunch. The Oakland, Calif., native told his players they were welcome to check out his entire Oakland Hills estate on a clear and warm day that overlooked the entire Bay Area, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.
Fournier took Shaw's words to heart by eating well and going to the backyard terrace to relax, which lead to him falling into a deep sleep. Fournier was so "knocked out" that he was groggy when he awakened and asked Shaw, "Where am I?"
"I was super tired. I went on the balcony and just took a nap for an hour and a half, two hours. I was knocked out, couldn't hear anyone and they just left me. Coach found me when he was basically closing the house," Fournier said.
Shaw eventually drove Fournier back to the team hotel with Nuggets assistant coach and fellow Oakland native Chris Farr. Shaw and Farr bonded with Fournier on the ride back, which included a brief Oakland tour and tales of the NBA greats hailing from there.
"We just talked about Oakland and the guys that came from Oakland, Merritt College where I had my camp. On the freeway we pointed and said, 'That's where Gary Payton lived, Jason Kidd and Damian Lillard.' We got to bond, get closer on that trip and get something out of it," Shaw said.