Nuggets coach George Karl enjoys a good pregame scream

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It started out as a mosh pit of masculinity.

Dressed in suits and ties, Nuggets coach George Karl and members of his coaching staff would lower their shoulders and slam into one another as a final bonding moment in the minutes before tipoff.

“As coaches, you’ve got to have your energy, you’ve got to be excited,” assistant coach Chad Iske explains. “Hit each other, bang around. We used to have a little mosh pit trying to knock each other off our feet for 10 or 15 seconds and then head out (to the court).”

Over the years, many of the original cast members moved on. Scott Brooks, Bill Branch and Rex Kalamian went to Oklahoma City, while Chip Engelland left for San Antonio.

Down to just Iske and Karl, the body-slamming has been replaced by vocal expression.

When the pregame clock goes under 4 minutes, Nuggets equipment manager Sparky Gonzalez shouts “3:59, time to go to work!” and Iske follows with a guttural scream that typically lasts six to eight seconds.

“The screaming came as the numbers dwindled and it became a non-contact event,” Iske said. “I show my energy that way.”

In his typical sardonic fashion, Karl usually has a pointed critique of Iske’s performance.

“You can’t get more than seven seconds,” Karl told Iske during Denver’s recently completed nine-game homestand. “I might be able to do better than that.”

To which Iske simply replied: “Whatever.”

The physical contact may be a thing of the past, but the verbal sparring is alive and well.