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Drbio
08-21-2002, 07:19 PM
Nuggets promote Bzdelik from scout to head coach

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Associated Press


DENVER -- Jeff Bzdelik, a scout for the Denver Nuggets last season, was introduced Wednesday as the team's new head coach.

Bzdelik, 49, who has 12 seasons as an NBA assistant in his 25 years of coaching, promised to field a high energy, defensive-oriented squad that will be "the best-conditioned team in this league.''

Bzdelik, the Nuggets' East Coast scout last season, was promoted to assistant coach on July 10 and immediately made an impression, using an up-tempo style to lead a team of youngsters to a 6-0 record in the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league in Salt Lake City.

He emerged as a front-runner for Denver's head coaching job after four other candidates withdrew over a six-week period: NBA assistants Donn Nelson of Dallas, Eddie Jordan of New Jersey, Phil Johnson of Utah and Del Harris of Dallas.

The Nuggets had been seeking a permanent head coach since Dan Issel was forced out in December after uttering a racially insensitive remark to a fan after a loss.

Mike Evans became coach on an interim basis, compiling an 18-38 record.

"We knew that we wanted Jeff with us full-time,'' Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "We weren't sure of the exact position. It turns out that it's a big one.''

The Nuggets also named John MacLeod as associate head coach and former Nuggets coach Doug Moe as a consultant. MacLeod served as both a consultant and an assistant coach for Denver last season.

"Luckily, the search is over,'' Vandeweghe said. "It took us a while. But after thorough research, we ended up with the guy that we wanted and we ended up with the staff that we wanted.''

Considered one of the league's top defensive minds, Bzdelik was an assistant for six years under Miami Heat coach Pat Riley.


Vandeweghe said he spoke earlier Wednesday with Riley.

"He said, 'Kiki, you've got a great man there. He's extremely knowledgeable and he'll do a fantastic job. We certainly hated to lose him.'''

Vandeweghe called Bzdelik "somebody we can all identify with, somebody who has been in the trenches and has been in the background and hasn't received all of the accolades that maybe he deserved.''

Bzdelik was, however, recognized by USA Today as one of the NBA's top five assistant coaches in 2000. In the 1998 Pro Basketball issue of Sports Illustrated, he was voted as the NBA's best advance scout by league general managers.

"We're going to be a high-energy team, we're going to utilize the altitude here, we're going to defend, we're going to give great effort at all times,'' Bzdelik said. "We're going to get the ball off the glass and we're going to run.

"We're going to be relentless in our effort, tireless in our approach.''

He wouldn't promise immediate success for a perennially losing franchise, saying, "We will have success someday. When it's going to happen, I don't know, but we will.''

He also said he won't tolerate any bad attitudes among his players.

"I won't deal with them,'' he said. "There's a door in the gym. People can come in and they can go out. There's no room for anything other than just a team ego. We've asked our players to leave their individual egos at the door.''