Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver nuggets Community!

"Some sh** needed to be said": Inside Will Barton’s passionate postgame speech in L.A.

Harrison Wind Avatar
March 2, 2020

Will Barton thinks the Nuggets can win the NBA championship this season.

On Denver’s roster he’s not alone, and the lofty goals Barton and the Nuggets have for themselves is why the forward felt it was imperative to confront his teammates following the Nuggets’ 132-103 loss to the Clippers on Friday and speak about what needs to change in order for Denver to reach its championship-level aspirations this season.

The Nuggets’ didn’t just lose to the Clippers three days ago, they got smoked. In a game that could go a long way toward deciding the No. 2 seed in the West, L.A. came to play while Denver didn’t. Michael Malone said Sunday that the Clippers “humiliated” the Nuggets on national television. He was exactly right.

Barton’s postgame message in the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center focused on the fact that he thinks certain teams believe the Nuggets are soft and can be beaten with physicality, something Denver can’t allow to happen. Barton stressed that while every player in the Nuggets’ locker room has one another’s back, Denver needs to begin to hold each other accountable. On a team that he thinks has a championship-level ceiling, Barton also doesn’t want to live with any regrets when he looks back on this season.

“I’m not a young player anymore. I’m in the prime of my career. I’m on the best team I’ve ever been on. I’m a major piece and I just want to embrace this moment and seize it,” Barton told DNVR after the Nuggets’ win over the Raptors Sunday. “At the end of my career I don’t want to look back and say, ‘Damn. I had a moment when I was on a championship-type team and I didn’t do everything in my power to get it done.’ So even if it doesn’t happen I want to look back and say I gave it my all. After going through everything I went through last year I know how much I love this game. I just want to be able to look back and say I gave it my all.”

“I care about this shit and I’ve got to let it show. I can’t be quiet no more. I can’t sit back and let it happen. I’ve got to challenge myself and be honest with myself. I wasn’t just talking about the team. I was talking about myself too. I was soft that game. I need to play better. We need to play better. I want to win. I want to win it all and I think we’ve got all the pieces. We’ve got the talent. We’ve got everything we need, but to get there we’re going to have to go through some adversity and we’re going to have to address it. We can’t run from it. I ain’t running from it. I’m going to accept this shit.”

Barton, who has always commanded respect within Denver’s locker room, has more NBA experience in his eighth season than any of his teammates not named Paul Millsap. As he laid out to those within earshot in L.A., championship-caliber teams aren’t afraid to call each other out over the course of a regular season.

“Some shit needed to be said. I’m serious about winning so sometimes you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone and tell guys the honest truth,” Barton said. “If you’re not then we’re just going to continue to let things be with way they are. Championship teams do stuff like that. Guys in the league who have been on winning teams, they’ve told me that. It’s time for me to grow up and step up.”

“I felt like they came out and took it to us and we can’t have teams thinking they can come into the game and if they’re physical with us they’re going to beat us. It was a tough game and we lost but we can’t lose because of that if we’re going to try and be the team that we want to be. It just needed to be said. All teams go through different things and this was ours. I wasn’t going to let it slide.”

Barton’s message was well received, according to his teammates who spoke on the subject following the Nuggets’ 133-118 win over the defending champion Raptors. After Friday’s loss to the Clippers, Malone didn’t offer any postgame remarks to his team but speaking with the media following the defeat Denver’s coach said he thought the Nuggets played “soft.” Barton echoed Malone’s thoughts in his locker room address and told DNVR Sunday that he believes rival teams think the Nuggets are soft based on what he hears from people around the league and the level of physicality that teams play with against Denver.

“There’s no secrets in this league,” Barton said.

Monte Morris said Barton’s passionate address united a disheartened Nuggets locker room.

“For him to stand up and do that it made us come together more,” Morris said. “It was some B.S. how we played the other night. We’re better than that and we can beat any team in this league.”

The Nuggets looked like a different team against Toronto, who boasted a 42-17 record ahead of Sunday’s matchup. The Raptors were without Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet but still had the services of All-Stars Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.

After converting on their first nine 3-pointers of the game, five of which came via Jamal Murray over the first seven minutes of the first quarter, the Nuggets raced out to a 40-32 after 12 minutes of play. The Raptors closed to within two points midway through the third but Denver hung on for its fourth wire-to-wire win of the season.

Nikola Jokic was brilliant against Toronto and led the Nuggets with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists. Midway through the fourth quarter Jokic connected with Gary Harris on the highlight of the night, a full-court one-handed Hail Mary pass that traveled around 80 feet in the air and resulted in a layup. Murray finished with 22 points while Jerami Grant added 16 points, three rebounds and a season-high six assists starting in place of Millsap who was sidelined due to a right ankle sprain. Grant also held Siakam to just 6 of 21 shooting.

Harris tallied 15 points, his highest scoring total in his last 15 games, and sunk all three of his 3-point attempts as the Nuggets’ shooting guard continues to show signs of life on the offensive end of the floor. Torrey Craig finished with a season-high 17 points and converted on three of his six 3-pointers.

The Nuggets also tied their season-high of 38 assists and Denver assisted on its first 18 baskets of the game. Michael Porter Jr. recorded 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes.

“We played for each other,” said Porter about the biggest difference between the Nuggets’ loss to the Clippers and win over the Raptors. “I thought we accepted the challenge of playing a really good team and we just tried to get back on track. In these big games we’ve got to step it up. And I didn’t think we did that against L.A. but tonight we did.”

“We kind of handled their aggressiveness a little bit better,” Jokic added. “We were making shots. That’s why.”

Barton finished with 11 points on just 3 of 9 shooting versus Toronto and was critical of his own play and specifically his defense over Denver’s last two matchups but believes he’ll be able to recapture his rhythm over the Nuggets’ remaining 22 regular season games. Since missing Denver’s final four matchups prior to last month’s All-Star break due to right knee inflammation, Barton is averaging just 11.4 points on 41.3% shooting from the field and 2.8 turnovers over his last five games. He walked around the Nuggets’ locker room Sunday evening with a noticeable limp.

Sunday’s win was a step in the right direction for Denver. After criticizing his team for their lackadaisical approach on Friday in L.A., Malone applauded the urgency that the Nuggets played with in the first quarter against the Raptors.

It’s a mentality the Nuggets must maintain over the remainder of the regular season in order to keep pace in a jumbled Western Conference. Barton believes that if the Nuggets preserve the edge they showed versus Toronto that Denver can still reach its ultimate goal.

“I’m going to keep pushing myself and my teammates,” Barton told DNVR. “Because this is our time. This our time.”


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?