One of the spoils of winning a title in any sport is getting to trash talk without recourse. When you reach the summit, as the Denver Nuggets did, you get to look down on all 29 other teams and remind them that they didn’t.
The Nuggets took full advantage of that opportunity this summer, as was their right. They took digs at the Lakers and paraded around with a trophy through the streets of Denver.
But equally, the Lakers — and every other team in the league — has the right to take note of that trash talk. And they pointed that out in their media day that Denver was on their minds coming into this season.
At that point, everything was fine. Both sides were acting as they should in the situation. Nothing was wrong.
And then, on Wednesday, Michael Malone turned to...gaslighting the Lakers? When speaking to the media after the Nuggets practice, he suddenly was unaware what the Lakers were saying or why his team was on their minds.
Coach Malone in response to some of the talk coming out of LA: “I don’t listen to any of that stuff, I don’t know what they’re saying.”— Katy Winge (@katywinge) October 4, 2023
Says the Nuggets have tremendous respect for the Los Angeles Lakers. pic.twitter.com/sTlqY2FuMU
Asked Michael Malone about Lakers talking about Denver. He reiterates respect for LA + Darvin Ham and said: "Oh, they're talking about us? That was what, 4 months ago?... if they're still worried about us, that's on them... if we're on their minds, then I guess that's on them."— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 4, 2023
Honestly, both sides need to just lean into it, which makes this all the more silly. Both sides had very fair reasons to react as they had! Don’t backtrack now! You got called “The Lakers Daddy!”
And this would be a great little rivalry. It has very natural roots coming out of the playoffs. These two teams are going to be among the top contenders not just in the conference but in the league. Their games this season will carry a lot of weight.
Both sides need to just embrace it. Let it be a rivalry. Don’t back out now. They’re in too deep. And don’t try to gaslight us. We know why this became a rivalry. Let it be a great one.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.