Bzdelik (buzz-DEL-ik) engineered one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history last season, guiding the Nuggets to 43 wins and the club’s first postseason berth since 1995. His team improved its record by 26 games, the sixth-best improvement in NBA history and the most ever for a team that won less than 20 games the year before. He also became the first coach in league annals (since the adoption of an 82-game schedule in 1976) to guide a team to the playoffs the year after winning less than 20 games.
Bzdelik earned praise league-wide in his first season for Denver’s competitiveness, work ethic and never-give-up attitude. Despite sporting the youngest team in franchise history, Bzdelik’s troops shattered the franchise record for scoring defense by more than 5.0 ppg, giving up just 92.4 ppg. In addition, the Nuggets led the league in turnovers forced (17.1 per game) and posted six of the top 12 marks in team history for single-game scoring defense.
Bzdelik, who served as a scout for the Nuggets in 2001-02, brings 27 years of coaching experience to the bench, including 12 seasons as an NBA assistant coach.
From 1995-01, Bzdelik was an assistant coach under Pat Riley in Miami, holding the title of Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting during the final two years. With the Heat, he was responsible for the preparation of all game plans as well as player development. In 2000, he was recognized by USA Today as one of the NBA’s top five assistant coaches. In the 1998 Pro Basketball issue of Sports Illustrated, he was voted as the NBA’s best advance scout by league general managers.
Prior to his tenure with the Heat, Bzdelik spent the 1994-95 season as the lead scout for Riley and the New York Knicks. He also served as an assistant coach with the then Washington Bullets from 1988-94 and was Wes Unseld’s first assistant in ’93-94.
The Illinois native began his coaching career in 1978 at Davison (N.C.) College. IN 1980 he was named assistant coach at Northwestern University where he spent six seasons and was instrumental in the Wildcats’ first NIT appearance in school history. He then took the head coaching position at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for two years. During the 1986-87 season at UMBC, his squad was cited by The Sporting News as “One of College’s Biggest Turnarounds”, in the school’s inaugural season in Division I.
A 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Bzdelik earned four varsity letters at UIC and was named team MVP in ’75-76. He also spent six years in the Army National Guard.
Bzdelik and his wife Nina have two children, Brett and Courtney.