We Love the (Nuggets) 80s: Mike Evans

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

Perhaps no Nuggets player in the 1980s defined mental toughness and determination more thoroughly than Mike Evans. An All-American basketball player at Kansas State, Evans was drafted by the Nuggets in 1978, but was dealt on draft night and did not begin his playing career until 1979.

The Nuggets re-acquired Evans on Jan. 12, 1983, signing him as a free agent – and Evans quickly became an integral cog on some of the most successful teams in Nuggets history. The Nuggets were in the playoffs in all of his six seasons with the team.

He simply gave the Nuggets whatever the team needed at the time.

To wit: On March 1, in the 1985 season that ended with the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, the team needed someone – anyone – to step up and help in a game that was getting away from them. They were down by 23 points in the game. Alex English and Calvin Natt were doing their thing, but they needed help.

Evans saved the day.

He scored a career-high 38 points that night, knocking down 5-of-7 3-pointers in the process in an unforgettable performance off the bench. With Evans knocking down every shot in sight – he was 15-of-20 that night – the Nuggets were off and running. They reeled in the Mavericks and then won the game 141-140 in overtime. Evans also had eight assists in the game.

Scoring had always been in his background. Evans left Kansas State in 1978 as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,115 points), a record that was just broken in 2011. With the Nuggets, he retired in 1988 and quickly moved into a number of different roles with the club.

Evans joined the Nuggets coaching staff in 1990-91 and remained there until midway through the 1994-95 season when he was promoted to Director of Player Personnel. In addition to his scouting duties, he was an analyst for the team’s television broadcasts through 1996-97. Evans was an assistant coach for the 1993-94 squad that defeated No. 1 seed Seattle in the first round of the NBA Playoffs and went to Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals with Utah.

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