Originally created 12/30/00

Issel backed by Nuggets' owner



DENVER -- The owner of the Denver Nuggets ended his silence on the team's staff, giving an endorsement to coach and president Dan Issel.

Stan Kroenke said Thursday he has no intention of removing Issel and his staff before the end of the season.

"Dan has done a good job," he said. "I think we have a bunch of good, young players who are getting better. I didn't feel bad about our team. I just felt there were times when people weren't communicating."

Kroenke spoke before the Nuggets lost to Toronto 94-93 on Thursday night, dropping Denver to 15-15.

He has had little to say publicly about Issel since he completed his purchase of the Nuggets, Avalanche and the Pepsi Center for $450 million in July.

Since Kroenke has endorsed Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix, some speculated that Issel might be forced out this season.

And when disgruntled Nuggets skipped practice Dec. 11, more doubts were raised about Issel's future. But Kroenke, who met with the team after that standoff, said he needed time to evaluate the situation.

Kroenke, a St. Louis developer and minority owner of the St. Louis Rams, said Thursday he reminded players during that meeting that Issel had brought them to Denver and was their leader.

He said he learned much about how players respond to coaches from watching Dick Vermeil work through tough times in St. Louis.

Issel has three years remaining on his four-year contract. The contracts of Issel's assistant coaches have not been renewed but Kroenke said that did not mean much.

He said he believes the $51.8 million the Nuggets are spending this season shows the team wants to be competitive.