- The former Raptors, Cavs and University of Rhode Island coach has died at the age of 81
- His son Michael guided Denver to the franchise’s first NBA title last season
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Brendan Malone, the longtime NBA coach and father of Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone, has died at the age of 81.
The Nuggets announced the news on Tuesday, although an exact cause of death was not specified.
“It is with immense sadness that we share the passing of longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, who holds a special place within the organization and will always be a Denver Nugget,” the Nuggets said in a statement.
“Coach Brendan Malone was a great man who left a great legacy in the basketball world, but he will be remembered even more for the great husband, father, son and grandfather he was and the profound impact he had on the friends. family and colleagues who were fortunate to know him. Our thoughts are with the entire Malone family and all of Brendan’s loved ones who are feeling this loss today.”
Brendan’s half-century coaching career began at Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan, where he took charge of the high school JV team for three seasons before moving to the varsity in 1970. Stints at Fordham, Yale, Syracuse and a head coaching job at the University of Rhode Island soon followed before Brendan jumped to the NBA in the late 1980s as a New York Knicks assistant under Hubie Brown and later Rick Pitino.
Michael Malone (left) is pictured next to his father Brendan when the two coached the Kings
Brendan Malone (far right) is pictured during his stint as Cavs interim coach in 2005
Malone also served as the Raptors’ first head coach after being hired by Isiah Thomas
The Queens native also served as an assistant under Chuck Daly on two title-winning Detroit Pistons teams before serving as the Toronto Raptors’ first head coach in 1995-96. Brendan was even hired by his former Pistons point guard, Isiah Thomas, who was the president of the Raptors at the time.
Malone would have two more stints as a Knicks assistant before moving to Cleveland in 2005, where he briefly served as the Cavaliers’ interim coach during LeBron James’ second season.
Perhaps Malone’s most intriguing assignment came in 2013, when he served as a Sacramento Kings assistant under his son Michael.
After winning the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat last June, the younger Malone stormed into his office to talk to his father and mentor.
“I couldn’t talk for a minute,” Michael told reporters of the conversation. “I was emotional and I told him, ‘Listen, it’s important that you know how much I love you.’ And in my family we don’t use that word very often.
“To see his son become a head coach and win a world championship… he was at a loss for words. So I love my dad, the best coach I’ve ever known.”