Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Issel Surprises Nuggets, Resigns after 2 1/2 Seasons

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Issel Surprises Nuggets, Resigns after 2 1/2 Seasons

Article excerpt

Dan Issel, who helped turn around a foundering franchise, resigned as coach of the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, saying the duties and pressures of the job "have started to make me something I don't want to be."

In a hastily arranged news conference, Issel, 46, said he will remain with the Nuggets' organization. His specific duties haven't been determined, but he might help oversee the team's move into a new arena in 1997.

Assistant Gene Littles will become interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Mike Evans will remain an assistant, and a second assistant will be hired soon.

"I never coached before, and I certainly won't coach again," the emotional Issel said. "I tried to make the right decision for my family and for the organization."

Issel, in his third season with the Nuggets, had guided the team to an 18-16 record this season. Surprisingly, the resignation followed two of the team's best games of the season, including a 118-104 victory over National Basketball Association champion Houston on Saturday night.

In 1992, Issel took over a team that had won only 20 and 24 games the previous two seasons under Paul Westhead. Issel compiled a 78-86 record in his first two seasons, and guided the team to an upset of Seattle in the playoffs last spring. It was the first time a No. 8 seeded team ever beat a No. 1, and the Nuggets then forced Utah to seven games in the second round before losing.

"I didn't come into this as a lifer, as somebody who wanted to be a coach," Issel said. "What I wanted to do was help turn the franchise around, and I think I did that."

Issel was a star player for the Nuggets and is a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. He retired in 1985. He returned to Denver in 1988 to do color commentary for the Nuggets until he became the team's 10th head coach.

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