When Nuggets coach Michael Malone said his team wanted to find actionable ways to improve race relations in Denver and work with the city’s police department, those weren’t hollow words.
On Saturday, Nuggets players and staffers held a Zoom call with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as an introductory step toward facilitating impactful change. The majority of Nuggets players were on the call, along with Malone, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, assistant general manager Calvin Booth and director of team operations Amy O’Brien.
A second Zoom call with the Mayor’s office is being planned, along with a future town hall meeting with Denver’s chief of police Paul Pazen. Ideally, the team would like to have that meeting in person.
Among the most vocal players on the introductory call were Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant, according to a team official. Grant, who has been home in Washington, D.C., had participated in peaceful protests with several family members.
The goal of the call was to establish how Nuggets players could best utilize their platforms in conjunction with the Mayor’s office. The team also wanted to hear Hancock’s perspective in the wake of the civil unrest that unfolded as a result of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis by a police officer.
More immediately, the Nuggets plan to help facilitate voter registration in the community, and there are tentative plans to help coordinate with local schools on other initiatives. One other movement that Malone and the NBA coaches are throwing their weight behind: The “Eight Can’t Wait” policies, whose goals are to address and reform police conduct. Most of the policies the initiative calls for were addressed in last week’s historic bill passed in Colorado.
“If I don’t speak up, I would be doing my players, the Nuggets and our city a disservice,” Malone told The Denver Post recently. “Silence is no longer acceptable, for any of us. … We have to have the courage to dig deep, to really get to the root cause. Education, voting, civilian oversight within the police department, transparency, hiring processes.”