Brendan Malone, former Detroit ‘Bad Boys’ assistant and father of Nuggets coach, dies at 81


Brendan Malone, father of Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone and a driving force behind the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” defenses in the late 1980s and early ’90s, has died at age 81.

A Nuggets representative told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a family member confirmed his death.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, who holds a special place amongst the organization and will be a Denver Nugget forever,” the team wrote on social media.

Malone spent three decades as an assistant or head coach in the NBA, working for the Knicks, Pacers, Cavaliers, Magic, Raptors and Pistons. He also served as the lead assistant for his son with the Kings.

It was during his time as Chuck Daly’s assistant in Detroit from 1988-95 that the elder Malone championed “The Jordan Rules,” a set of defensive principles designed to curtail Michael Jordan’s offensive prowess.

Although Jordan eventually found ways for the Bulls to surpass the Pistons, the strategy helped Detroit eliminate Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals on the way to a pair of NBA titles in 1989 and ’90.

Shortly after Michael Malone led the Nuggets to their first NBA championship last summer, the National Basketball Coaches Association awarded the elder Malone the 2023 Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award.

Michael Malone said during the Finals against Miami that his father tried to dissuade him from getting into coaching as a career. “He had lived it with six kids, and he understood the pitfalls of that job,” Malone said. “I was just too dumb and stubborn to listen to him.”



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