Denver Nuggets A to Z: Bill Hanzlik
Blue-collar forward make an impact on and off the court
Gangly frame. Floppy hair. Bushy mustache.
Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe took one look at Bill Hanzlik and immediate cast him as a “no-hoper.”
As part of a month-long tribute to the most notable and memorable players in franchise history, we are taking a look at the Nuggets from A to Z.
H is for Hanzlik, whose history with the Nuggets includes nine seasons a player, one as a coach, 12 as a broadcaster and 28 as a leader in promoting youth sports in the Denver-metro area.
Hanzlik arrived in Denver as the final piece of the trade that sent David Thompson to the Seattle Supersonics in exchange for Wally Walker and a first-round draft choice on July 20, 1982.
With his relentless hustle and willingness to run, rebound and do the little things in Moe’s high-paced offense, Hanzlik became a key contributor off the bench. He averaged 12.5 points in 1985-86 and 13.0 points in 1986-87.
“The biggest thing is I was a competitor,” Hanzlik told Nuggets.com in 2011.
“I was not the biggest, fastest or strongest by any means. I was totally below-average. The only thing I was average at was my size. I took a lot of pride in playing defense and I trained really hard. I was always physically in great shape, and that’s why Denver was such a good fit.”
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward was a fan favorite in Denver until back problems forced him to retire after the 1990-91 season. He then spent six seasons as an assistant coach with Charlotte and Atlanta before being named Nuggets coach in 1997.
In addition to his contributions on the court, Hanzlik has made a significant impact in the Denver community. He is the CEO of the Gold Crown Foundation, which he started with Colorado business leader Ray Baker in 1986.
The foundation began modestly as a girl’s basketball camp in 1986. It now operates basketball, golf, lacrosse, volleyball and education enrichment programs for 16,000 to 18,000 boys and girls annually out of its 13-acre complex in Lakewood.
Hanzlik also continues to work as a Nuggets studio analyst for Altitude Sports & Entertainment.
Game to remember, Nov. 14, 1986
Hanzlik scored a career-high 33 points, including two game-clinching free throws with nine seconds left, as the Nuggets held off the Dallas Mavericks 142-138 at McNichols Arena. Hanzlik added five assists and four rebounds to help Denver rally from an 18-point first-half deficit.