College - Kentucky '70
One of the leading players in the history of the Denver Nuggets, Dan Issel began his second stint as the team's head coach in 1999-2000, adding to his responsibilities as the Nuggets' president of basketball operations. The Nuggets, rebuilding around Antonio McDyess, Raef LaFrentz and Nick Van Exel, compiled a 35-47 record in Issel's first year back on the bench.
Issel originally was named Denver's coach on May 20, 1992, and turned around a team that had finished 24-58. Denver went 36-46 under Issel in 1992-93 before making the playoffs the next two seasons. The Nuggets made history in 1994 when they beat Seattle in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, becoming the first No. 8 seed in NBA history to defeat the top-seeded team.
Issel stepped down as head coach on Jan. 15, 1995, but returned to Denver's front office on March 25, 1998.
Following Issel's arrival as a player in 1975, the Nuggets enjoyed a decade of excellent. The period featured eight playoff berths, including a trip to the ABA Finals, two Midwest Division titles, two appearances in the NBA's Western Conference finals (1978 and 1985) and an overall record of 453-369 (.551).
Issel's jersey No.44 hangs from the rafters in the Pepsi Center as one of four retired numbers in Nuggets history (Byron Beck, No. 40; David Thompson, No. 33; and Alex English, No. 2).
Issel, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, was an All-Star in both the ABA and NBA and retired in 1985 as the Nuggets' all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He was one of the most durable players in pro basketball, missing just 24 games in his 15-year career. After Issel's final season, the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America honored him with the J. Walter Kennedy Award for his outstanding community service.
With his 27,482 points, Issel is seventh on the all-time ABA/NBA scoring list, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.
Issel starred at the University of Kentucky from 1967-70. In his time with the Wildcats, Issel set 23 school records as a three-year starter and remains the school's all-time leading scorer (2,138 points).
Issel entered the professional ranks with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA and was a fixture in their lineup for five years, leading them to the 1975 ABA championship. He was traded to the Baltimore Claws, who then sold his rights to Denver on Oct. 8, 1975.