By Scott Chasen
DENVER (247Sports)– When players get traded and coaches get fired, there’s often a storm that follows in that teams will leak negative information about their former player or coach to make the move seem more understandable from their end — regardless of whether or not it’s true.
It can be a controversial tactic — and one that hurts teams in the future with potential free agents — but it’s something that happens all the time in sports.
Such was not the case when the news broke that former Kansas Jayhawk big man Darrell Arthur had been traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
The trade, it appears, had little to do with Arthur and more to do with the Nuggets’ standing against the luxury tax. The Nuggets reportedly moved Arthur, along with power forward Kenneth Faried, to shed salary while the Nets were able to take on his contract and acquire a protected first-round pick, according to ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski.
However, once the news went down, a trio of reporters actually shared stories of what Arthur brought to the Nuggets. It wasn’t with the 2.8 points per game he averaged over 19 contests last year, but rather what he brought to the team in the locker room and how he carried himself off the court.
“What really separates him, I think, is that the players have so much respect for Darrell Arthur,” said Nuggets coach Mike Malone during the season, as noted by NBA.com. “(Arthur) sets the example first and foremost, and then he gets on guys, whether it’s to hold them accountable or to encourage them. With all our young players, they listen to him. His voice carries weight and I think it really starts with the fact that he sets the example every single day.”
Such was also noted by Harrison Wind, a writer for BSN Denver.
After the trade, Wind took to Twitter to share a story from late in the season. The Nuggets, who at the time were 45-35 and clawing for a playoff spot in the West, were taking on the Portland Trail Blazers in their penultimate regular season game.
A loss would have almost certainly eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention, with so many teams being packed into the race. As it were, the Nuggets were eliminated when they lost their final game to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime.
But that’s not why the story is significant.
After scoring only 14 points in the second quarter against Portland, the Nuggets were trailing by seven in a game they desperately needed. It was then that Arthur took control of the locker room, a role that wasn’t at all unfamiliar to him.
“There was a memorable halftime speech that took place,” Wind tweeted. “The Nuggets had just put together on of their worst offensive halves of basketball of the year. They scored 42 points over the first two quarters. Michael Malone spoke first and stressed to his guys that “this is it.” Essentially, this was the Nuggets season.”
Wind noted he was told by Nuggets’ young star Nikola Jokic that it was Arthur who gave the decisive words.
“D.A.’s the one who, when he talks, everyone listens,” Jokic said, as tweeted by Wind. “When you see him play, you know that’s how you’re supposed to play. He said just ‘Come on guys! Fight for every ball! That’s the only way!’”
“That’s the kind of presence Arthur was in a young Nuggets’ locker room over the past few years,” Wind added in his own words. “That’s where they’ll miss him most. It will be interesting to see who steps up in that regard.”
Wind — and Malone and Jokic, too, I suppose — weren’t the only ones to gain a respect for Arthur off the court.
Gina Mizell, who covers the Nuggets for the Denver Post, noted on her own Twitter account that she appreciated one of her first interactions with the former Jayhawk.
“Lots of people are sharing Darrell Arthur stories, so here’s mine,” Mizell tweeted. “The first time I talked to him, he asked me to tell him my name again at the end of our interview so he would remember it. Simple gestures of respect and kindness like that don’t go unnoticed.”
One other reporter, The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider, also tweeted an interaction he shared with Arthur.
Kosmider’s tweet was more in jest, but it still revealed a little something about Arthur’s personable demeanor.
“Darrell Arthur and I once talked about sneakers for half an hour,” Kosmider recalled. “It was as enjoyable as one might expect.”