Nuggets Journal: On 13-day road trip, “never rely on laundry”

NEW YORK – When Nuggets coach Michael Malone picked up assistant Ryan Bowen en route to the airport ahead of Denver’s daunting 7-game, 13-day road trip, he had one question for him: “I go, ‘Bro, where you going? We can do laundry on the road.’”

Bowen had five bags with him, evidently unfazed by dragging his bags from Miami to Orlando, up to New York and Chicago before heading back down to New Orleans and San Antonio. In 13 days.

When Malone was asked about the “borderline ridiculous” nature of this trip, he quickly interjected.

“Take borderline out,” he said.

Asked if he packed any extra underwear, Malone took the alley and ooped it.

“Who said I wear underwear?” he said.

Back in New York, the third stop in Denver’s odyssey, Malone felt right at home.

An NBA veteran, Malone knows it’s the nature of the business. But that didn’t take the sting out of not having P.J. Dozier (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery) on the trip and having to leave Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland and Bol Bol in Orlando due to health-and-safety protocols.

“It feels like every city we go to, we get a little smaller and smaller,” Malone said. “By the time we get to San Antonio, I hope I’m part of the team.”

Fifteen-year NBA veteran Jeff Green has a firm policy on underwear.

“I never rely on laundry,” he said.

And even though he’s been on similar grueling road trips before, he said there is little players can do to make it more tolerable. Except pack extra underwear, and maybe find a way for some team bonding.

“Mainly it’s about us just being together,” Green said. “It’s a time for us to individually get to know each other off the floor.”

When the Nuggets were in Phoenix earlier this season, Green said he went to dinner with Markus Howard, P.J. Dozier, Austin Rivers, Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray. As a Georgetown alum, he’d long been a fan of Howard (Marquette) in college and wanted to get to know him better. He did the same with Murray, who’s been with the team on road trips but has spent most of his time rehabbing his ACL.

The silver-lining, Green said, of these road trips is that players are forced to bond. The trust and honesty that gets established over dinners like the one in Phoenix also allow players to hold each other more accountable.

After Wednesday’s awful loss in Orlando, when the Nuggets conceded 66 points in the paint to the Magic, they needed some accountability. Multiple players said guys were vocal over film sessions and throughout Thursday, the travel day, ahead of Saturday’s early game in New York. If it was a home game, players would’ve dispersed back to their families.

As it was, players aired out their, ahem, dirty laundry.

Nuggets veteran Will Barton understands the grind of a long road trip and is used to it by now. Nothing changes with his routine, though he did concede he picked up a few outfits in New York.

“Lot of fly stuff for the games, sweatsuits and stuff for the off days,” Barton said.

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