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Former NBA head coach Brendan Malone dies at 81

Jan 2, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; General view of basketballs on the court before the game between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Malone, a longtime NBA coach and the father of Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, died at age 81.

The Nuggets announced the elder Malone’s death on social media Tuesday but did not state a cause.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, who holds a special place amongst the organization and will be a Denver Nugget forever,” the team wrote.

The Nuggets added Malone “left behind a great legacy in the world of basketball, but he will be remembered even more for the amazing husband, father, son and grandfather that he was and the profound impact he had on the friends, family and colleagues who were lucky enough to know him.”

A New York City native, Malone worked his way from the head coach of prep powerhouse Power Memorial Academy (1970-76) to a trio of college assistant coaching jobs until he was named head coach at Rhode Island, where he posted a 17-39 record.

After two seasons, he joined the coaching staff of the New York Knicks in 1986, embarking on a 30-year career in the NBA.

As an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons from 1988-95, he created a defense designed to neutralize Michael Jordan, helping the Pistons eliminate the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs and win NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.

His assistant coaching stops also included Indiana, Cleveland and Orlando.

Malone served as the first head coach of the expansion Toronto Raptors, fired after one season and a 21-61 record.

“The Toronto Raptors organization is saddened by the passing of Brendan Malone, who served as our head coach during the team’s inaugural season in 1995-96, winning a special place in our history and our hearts,” the Raptors said in a statement. “His contributions to the game will forever be remembered, and we offer our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Michael Malone is not with the Nuggets for Tuesday’s preseason game in Phoenix. Assistant coach David Adelman is serving as the acting head coach.

–Field Level Media

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