There's more to Mosley than just style points
Nuggets assistant coach ready to lead summer-league team
From his chic eyewear to his designer shoes, Jamahl Mosley is typically the sharpest-dressed man among the Denver Nuggets’ coaching staff.
An assignment as head coach of the Nuggets summer league team would seem to be a perfect opportunity to display his fashion sense – all of Denver’s games will be televised nationally on NBA TV.
The forecast for Las Vegas in July, however, is hardly conducive to pinstripes and lapels.
“I’m wearing some shorts and a polo,” Mosley said with a laugh this week as he prepared for Denver’s summer-league opener against the Dallas Mavericks. “It’s 110 degrees on Friday.”
With five games in six days, the 31-year-old Mosley is concerned more about X’s and O’s than impressing GQ. After five seasons as a Nuggets’ assistant, he recognizes the chance to take another step toward his goal of becoming a head coach.
“It’s a process,” he said. “Each step you get better. I look back at five years ago when I first walked in and I’m like, ‘Goodness gracious, what am I doing?’ I was just trying to figure out what to do. Moving to this now, it’s all steps in the process.”
Mosley’s work with the Nuggets hasn’t gone unnoticed. His name was mentioned as a possible candidate when the University of Colorado went through a coaching search last spring. Mosley, who averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds as a four-year letterman at CU from 1997-2001, had conversations with school officials but was never formally interviewed for the job.
“Words really don’t express it,” he said. “Just knowing that you’ve come to the level of being mentioned for a coaching job at the University of Colorado is a complete honor.”
As he put his 11-man team through practice this week, Mosley didn’t necessarily feel much different than he does during the regular season. That’s because Nuggets coach George Karl has tremendous trust in his assistants and gives them freedom to take charge during workouts.
Plus, the coaching staff was given more responsibility when Karl was unable to coach the final 14 games of the regular season and playoffs because of his battle with throat cancer.
As he goes through the summer league, Mosley will try to emulate Karl’s ability to stay patient and not overreact in the heat of battle.
“George wraps up the entirety of coaching,” Mosley said. “He doesn’t seem to panic. He always seems to have an even-keel about him.”
Having spent five years with Karl and four years playing for Ricardo Patton at Colorado, Mosley will preach hard work, defense and unselfish play during the summer league. The philosophies will be familiar to a few Nuggets on the roster in Vegas.
Denver will be led by second-year point guard Ty Lawson, who averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 assists as a rookie with the Nuggets last season. Combo guard Coby Karl, George Karl’s son, will get plenty of minutes alongside Lawson.
And then there’s Richard Roby, a 6-foot-6 swingman who left CU in 2008 as the school’s all-time leading scorer. Mosley laughed when asked if he will give preferential treatment to a fellow Colorado alumnus.
“I couldn’t say that on paper,” he said, “but he did go to CU. You may be able to read between the lines.”
Make no mistake, Roby will be treated like any other player while Mosley is in charge. He will receive words of instruction and encouragement at various decibel levels.
“I knew what it was like when I played. Yelling at me doesn’t really inspire me,” Mosley said. “But if it gets to a point where you just aren’t getting it, yeah, I’ll yell and I’ll get my point across. But if a guy makes a mistake and I can correct it without bringing it in front of the whole team, I’ll talk to you. I’m a firm believer in constant communication.”
Motivating players is one of Mosley’s greatest strengths. He has a unique ability to light a competitive fire under the Nuggets – particularly big men Chris Andersen, Kenyon Martin and Nene – when drills inevitably start getting monotonous over the course of an 82-game season.
“Getting guys to go hard, that’s part of the game of basketball,” he said. “It’s not just about X’s and O’s, and it’s not about making shots. Sometimes it’s about your ability to give the extra effort.”
Like his fashion sense, Mosley’s effort will never be questioned.v
He was a solid college player who never made an NBA roster, but his passion and work ethic have led him down a promising career path traveled by young head coaches such as first-year New Orleans coach Monty Williams.
“It’s always good to have something you can look forward to and say, ‘I’m envisioning this for the future,’ ” he said. “ At least I know this is a process that’ll take me to A, B or C. If I was a young intern working at IBM, I can look at the CEO and say, ‘Here’s the way he made it up the ranks.’
“You look at Monty, you look at (former Cleveland coach) Mike Brown, you look at all these guys. They’ve worked their way through the system. This is where you can end up if you do it the right way and you’re not afraid to work.”
Contact Aaron Lopez at email@example.com