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Friday, December 15, 2000
Nuggets say fatigue led to absence

DENVER -- Denver Nuggets players insisted on Tuesday they skipped practice the previous day because of fatigue from a long road trip, not because of anger over the coaching style of Dan Issel.

The 15 players agreed among themselves not to show up for the 11 a.m. practice after returning home from Boston at about 3 a.m., but Issel and his assistant coaches weren't notified of the players' plans.

Both sides called it a matter of miscommunication and said any festering issues were resolved in a team meeting Tuesday morning.

But forward James Posey's comments in a newspaper article that the players might boycott Tuesday night's game against the Miami Heat led to speculation that Issel might have lost control of his team.

Posey denied making any such statement, although it was captured on tape in an on-the-record conversation with the Denver Post.

"I talked about missing practice, but I didn't say anything about missing the game or boycotting, none of that," Posey said Tuesday following Denver's morning shootaround, which was fully attended.

"It was a team decision," Posey said about skipping practice. "We were tired, we got in late and we just felt we needed the day off. We said we'd accept the consequences, whether it was a fine or not being allowed to play in the game."

Asked if Issel, who also is the Nuggets' president, has lost control of the team, Posey said, "No, he hasn't lost control. We have much respect for Dan."

The Post article indicated the players were protesting Issel's apparent tirade against center Raef LaFrentz after his 0-for-7 shooting, five-foul performance in a 104-102 overtime loss to Boston on Sunday night. LaFrentz was in Issel's doghouse last season.

George McCloud, one of the Nuggets' captains, said the players' decision to miss practice was "more or less that we were tired. We played four games in five nights and arrived home at 3 o'clock in the morning.

"At the same time, we discussed with Dan some of our issues. I think he's going to back off of certain guys a little bit. We have some guys on this team who can take criticism and some who don't respond to it as well.

"Dan wants so bad for us to succeed. And when we don't play well or we lose by a close margin and certain guys don't play well, he gets on guys."

McCloud added that "everyone in that locker room still supports Dan and still wants Dan to be the coach. It was not a boycott. It was not anything where the team was trying to get Dan fired or rebelling against Dan."

McCloud conceded that the players "should have handled it a little more professionally. We should have talked to Dan directly and told him we were tired and didn't think we needed to practice."

The Nuggets went 0-4 on the just-completed road trip, falling to 10-12 on the season. Issel has felt pressure this year to succeed after the team's new owner, Stan Kroenke, said Issel and his staff had just one season to prove themselves.

"We really didn't need to practice yesterday, and that was my fault," Issel said. "I was under the assumption that we were going to get home at midnight, but we had a bad flight.

"The players should have come to me and said they didn't want to practice. I did tell them I was glad they did it together. That's probably the first thing we've done as a team this year. They didn't handle it very well, and I didn't handle it very well. They apologized, and that's the end of it."

Asked if he was concerned that he might be losing his players, Issel said, "I don't think so. I can only go by what they tell me. I don't believe anything in the media that comes from them. I believe what they tell me face to face in my office.

"I guess the proof of that will be how we play (Tuesday night), how we play the next week, how we play the next month."

LaFrentz said he hoped Issel would have a long tenure as coach of the Nuggets.

"I don't foresee a problem playing for Dan," he said. "I don't hold any ill will toward Dan, he doesn't hold any ill will toward me. He's a passionate individual and very intense about his job, and that's what you want from a head coach.

"There aren't that many problems between the coaches and the players on this team. There are just some things that happened that we felt needed to stop, whether it was miscommunication or whatever. I think people feel better about the situation now."

Posey speaks out on his AthletesDirect web site

 After the Nuggets loss to Miami, coach Dan Issel felt his team handled the situation poorly.
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 After the loss, George McCloud thinks the players will need to admit they were wrong.
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 James Posey clears up the comments he made to the Denver Post.
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 George McCloud says the team never thought about boycotting the game.
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 Dan Issel responds to talk about losing his players.
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 Dr. Jack Ramsay analyzes the situation with the Denver Nuggets.
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 Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News on the Nuggets players' decision to skip practice.
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RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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