Sharing Doug Moe Memories - Kiki Vandeweghe

Kiki Vandeweghe, Nuggets player (1980-84)

Kiki Vandeweghe played his first four seasons in the NBA (1980-84) under Doug Moe and the Denver Nuggets and was a favorite target of Moe’s tirades before being traded to Portland prior to the 1984-85 season. While General Manager of the Nuggets, Vandeweghe thought fondly enough of Moe and his basketball knowledge that he hired him as a coaching consultant for the team. Vandeweghe reflected on his time with Moe and shared some of his favorite memories and stories.”

What are your favorite memories of your playing days under Moe?
“Doug screaming at me is a favorite memory because it happened so often. It’s indelibly etched in my brain. No, Doug is an interesting guy because he is really one of the smartest basketball guys you’ll ever meet – one of the smartest guys you’ll ever meet. And he has a wonderful sense of humor and keeps everybody loose and relaxed. You know you’re able to play and compete at a very high level and the one thing people don’t understand about Doug is how competitive he is and how hard his teams always played. That’s one of the reasons he’s here is because we want to do the same thing.”

Why did you bring Doug back to Denver this season?
“First of all when I came here I wanted to establish a little bit of a Nuggets tradition and history and Doug is such a big part of that. He’s the best coach the Nuggets ever had here and I think that bringing back some of the old players and bringing back the most successful coach is a start in that direction. I wanted a feeling of family and a feeling of tradition. It sort of went away for a while and I want to make sure we bring that back.
And also, there’s nobody better at the run-and-gun game and there’s nobody better to teach I think than Doug Moe.”

Do you have a favorite Moe memory? Was there ever a time he really lost it with you?

“There’s too many times for me to remember when he was angry at me. Believe it or not, just what I remember probably most is Doug’s confidence in me. I can remember we were in Madison Square Garden and it was about my fourth or fifth game in the league and I’m on the court with David Thompson and Alex English and Dan Issel and we’re down by one or the game is tied – I can’t remember what the exact situation was – and Doug calls the play for me to take my man and all the other guys to stand and watch me go on-on-one when I’m just a rookie. And I’ll never forget, really the chance and the opportunity that Doug gave me to be successful.

What do you remember most about Doug’s “fashionable” wardrobe:
“The only thing about his wardrobe I can remember was that he told us his rule was you have to dress better than him to be acceptable and I couldn’t make that so…”

What are your memories from your rookie season with Doug?
“Donnie (Walsh) got fired two games after I got here, so I was here right at the beginning (of Doug’s tenure). I wasn’t here the first half of the year, but the team really struggled the first half. Then the second half of the year it was very successful. I really did enjoy my time with Doug.”

What did you learn for him?
“I can’t say any one thing. There’s a lot of things. I think one thing that will always stick with me will be that ‘When the game’s over, it’s over.’ Then you’re on to the next one and whatever happened, good or bad, you can’t do anything about. Doug was a great example of that. We’d won or lost and he may have been really angry during the game, but as soon as it was over he was ready to go out and have dinner and forget about it. He was back to being your best friend. That’s an important lesson to learn in the NBA and he taught it well.”