Malone blasts NBA for omitting coaches’ families

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Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone went after the NBA on Friday, calling its policy of not allowing coaches to bring family into the bubble “criminal in nature.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s Game 2 against the LA Clippers, Malone answered a different question about the bubble by saying he needed to get something off his chest.

“First, I’m going to say something that has nothing to do with your question,” he said. “Today is Day 60. Alright? The guys that came down here on July 7, and there weren’t many of us because we were ravaged with COVID. This is the original crew. This is day number 60. The reason why I bring that up is because the players have their families here, which they deserve, which is the right thing to do. The referees are allowed to bring one guest, which is great for the referees. The coaches, the coaches are not allowed to bring anybody.”

The National Basketball Players Association and National Basketball Referees Association collectively bargained a number of issues and amenities to encourage their members to participate in the league restart in Orlando, Florida. One of those was the inclusion of family members and guests.

Prior to the Nuggets heading to the bubble, Malone had mentioned his frustration with not allowing family for coaches, saying he hoped the league would adjust the protocol. If the Nuggets made it to the NBA Finals, it would be more than 90 days without seeing family for coaches.

“I say shame on you NBA,” said Malone, who is married with two daughters. “This is crazy. I miss my family. And I think I speak for me, I speak for my coaches and probably all the coaches down here. Sixty days and not having access and being granted the privilege to have my family come here to me is criminal in nature and that shouldn’t be at all. So I wanted to get that off my chest.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before Friday’s Game 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks that the coaches’ association has petitioned the league to allow coaches’ families to be in the bubble, but he understands the challenges involved in allowing more guests.

“The entire head coaches association has talked to the league. [Dallas Mavericks coach] Rick Carlisle has spearheaded a lot of those discussions,” Spoelstra said. “They haven’t totally, absolutely, 100 percent shut the door and I understand it. These are not easy decisions and this is not a normal period of time in our history. This is unprecedented. You can’t compare this to anything else.

“…So I get that part of it, those are not easy decisions that the league has to make. There is a human side to it that we just want them to consider. And it has been a long period of time away from our families, this is not something that you can prepare for. We’re not in the military. We don’t have a background in this. I miss my family dearly. These are extraordinary times and this is an extraordinary opportunity here in this bubble.”

ESPN’s Nick Friedell contributed to this report.

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