Knicks Nuggets Basketball

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, left, jokes with coach Michael Malone during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Gazette sports editor Paul Klee's three more thoughts on Broncos-Raiders Sunday:

1. Broncos desperately miss Tim Patrick

Seven Broncos have appeared in every game — the same number of projected starters now on injured reserve. The injuries are a recurring theme from recent years, but never to this extent. Denver’s IR is a who’s who of key contributors: Garett Bolles, Ronald Darby, Randy Gregory, Javonte Williams and the list goes on. But one injury stands above the rest: Tim Patrick’s. As Russell Wilson hunched over at his locker after a loss to the Titans, Patrick placed a hand on the quarterback’s shoulder and offered an encouraging word. Patrick was lost for the season due to a knee injury in training camp, and his absence can’t be overstated. As one Broncos executive said: Patrick was the “heart and soul” of the offense. Because teammates know the path that Patrick traveled to a $30 million contract, his voice carried weight in the huddle and locker room. Get well, good sir.

2. Make the Broncos uncomfortable again

The Broncos Country Club needs to up the uncomfortable factor. May I suggest the Air Force Academy? File this under things that won’t happen but should: Broncos training camp in 2023 should move to the academy. Rough it for a week, if not two, and swing a U-turn from the two-hand touch mindset of Nathaniel Hackett’s first (and probably only) training camp. The academy was a good-enough training ground for the Patriots and Rams. It was good enough last week for Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, who trained at 7,083 feet prior to a game in Mexico City. Yes, the berm at UCHealth Training Center is handy from a fans' perspective. And the autograph session with kids and players is priceless. But no one on the roster wants to spend a week or two away from home, and making a comfy building uncomfortable should be a goal next season.

3. The NBA is still playing COVID

The COVID cult won’t admit how wrong it was about everything, worst of all school closures that hurt kids and crushed poor communities. (A few of us recognized as early as June 2020 it was all a political racket. Told you so.) Credit the NFL for ditching all of its COVID protocols in April 2022. Better late than not yet. The NBA is still on its nonsense, benching Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray due to protocols. By now it's obvious to everyone outside the COVID cult that governing bodies have no one’s best interest at heart except their own, so it’s on brand for the NBA to continue down a useless road. Nuggets coach Michael Malone had a chance to stick up for his guys and expose the NBA as employing rules from 2020 that have no business in 2022. Instead, Malone fell in line. Too many supposed leaders did. “That’s in our sports science team's (hands),” Malone deferred. Meanwhile, the NFL powers on without protocols and with no significant issues. The NFL is the Sweden and Florida of pro sports — proof that restrictions made a bad situation worse. 

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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