Former Toronto Raptors head coach Brendan Malone passed away Tuesday at the age of 81, the Denver Nuggets announced in a statement posted to Twitter.
“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 statement reads. Malone’s son, Michael, is currently Denver’s head coach.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 10, 2023
Malone’s long and illustrious career as an NBA assistant coach first brought him courtside at Madison Square Garden with the New York Knicks and then to the Detroit Pistons, where he won two championships, before he was chosen to be the first head coach for the expansion Toronto Raptors in 1995.
After his Raptors stint, Malone would go on to help assist the Knicks again, as well as the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers, where he briefly served as interim head coach in 2005. (RELATED: Adam Silver Smelled Marijuana On Kevin Durant During Their Meeting About The Substance)
Malone will perhaps be most fondly remembered for creating a defensive plan for guarding Michael Jordan while he was an assistant with the Pistons. Malone’s strategy, which came to be known as “The Jordan Rules,” helped the Pistons defeat Jordan’s Bulls on their way to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.
Malone’s fingerprints are all over the modern NBA. He coached a young Lebron James in Cleveland in 2005. His son Michael was head coach of the Sacramento Kings before accepting a job to helm the Nuggets, who he just led to an NBA championship.
Malone would ultimately return to Detroit and serve out two more years as an assistant before retiring as a coach in 2016.