A basketball legend returned to Denver to look back and celebrate an incredible career. Alex English and all of his 6-foot-7 frame that Denver Nuggets fans admired and fell in love with, got ready to address the media, all smiles, laughs and in near giddy excitement, an emotion he described getting before games he played himself 30 years ago. English covered many topics in his return, however spoke extensively about the offense his team ran back in the 1980s, which he says, has never been replicated.
“There was an organization to the chaos,” English said. “I don’t think anybody’s done it since Doug Moe…When the three point shot did come in, we had guys who could shoot the three. Michael Adams, Michael Evans, we did a lot of midrange stuff, a lot of cutting, a lot of movement on the floor. It was movement that was organized, but unorganized. You had the ability to go wherever the defense dictated, other teams didn’t know that, so we always had an advantage and we learned how to take advantage of our advantage.”
English also opened up about a conversation he had earlier this year with former Nuggets head coach Doug Moe, about that offense that led to English netting the NBA scoring title in 1983.
“A lot of teams, they talk about moving the ball, we were all about movement and it was all organized. It was not all just pick and roll stuff. It was basketball at it’s purest form… It was pushing the ball up, cutting to the basket, passing if he was open and continuous movement,” English said. “People are trying to get to it, but I think a lot of coaches feel like they have to look like coaches and design plays. Doug didn’t design any plays. It was very simple. Our offense was pass, cut, set good screens and if you had a good shot, you take it.”
English opined about their offense being compared to the triangle offense the Los Angeles Lakers ran, “I would put ours against theirs, any day.”
English also discussed his favorite time playing basketball. “My favorite time, was when we were in the finals of the Western Conference, against the Lakers. Unfortunately, I broke my thumb and wasn’t able to finish it. That was the farthest we had gotten as a team, and we were in a groove that year… We were on a mission. Everybody knew that they had a role to play and we played our roles well” said English, who was asked if he’s ever thought about a possible different outcome to the series, if he didn’t get hurt.
“I felt like we would’ve won… The Lakers were playing great basketball, but we felt invincible… We felt like we had the upper hand. Teams go through those seasons where they get in a groove and they know they’re playing great basketball. We felt like it was our year.”
English elaborated on his stint as an assistant coach, “I learned a lot about the defensive side, and that there’s a lot of organized basketball that’s unnecessary in the game today. People do a lot of things and try a lot of things that aren’t necessarily meaningful. It almost takes some of the fun out of the game… When I came to Denver playing for Doug Moe, it was like unleashing us, letting us be basketball players. It was fun and we enjoyed playing. I think that’s one of the things that made us such a good team. We enjoyed playing… We loved to play.”
English was put on the spot to be commissioner for a day and asked if he would change the way NBA allows young players to enter the league.
“I would eliminate that one-year (rule) that they can go to the NBA… I would have the guys play at least two years. A minimum of two years before they can come in…I’ve watched a kid that plays for my university, South Carolina, Sindarius Thornwell, who stayed in school for four years and I’ve seen his game blossom. He’s learned a lot… He got an opportunity to play and he’s a better player for it.”
English touched on teaching young guys and players and if any current Denver players have reached out. “I would gladly give my advice, I like teaching young people about the game. And not necessary just about the basketball part of it, but about being a good teammate and that the game is almost like a moment.”
“I like seeing the team do positive things… I think they’ve got a lot of potential” English said about this current Nuggets roster, “They’ve got some veterans that have been here a while that are doing well… Jokic, I like him a lot. I like a big man that can score and he sees the floor well.”
The Denver Nuggets took to Twitter to honor their legend post game, with a tribute highlight reel from English’s time with the Nuggets.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 25, 2017
Photo courtesy of the Denver Nuggets.