"The biggest kick I get out of David," says Jones, "is watching opposing player reactions. There's so much pride in this game. When DT makes an embarrassing dunk over a man, the man will act like nothing happened. But I watch him run upcourt. The man's eyes bug out. Sometimes he looks in shock."
One night last month the Nuggets were in the midst of rallying to an overtime homecourt victory over New York when Simpson overthrew a sky pass to Thompson and the ball seemed headed for the nearest Rocky. Having faked Erving up and dashed down along the baseline, Thompson started his climb anyway. When he got up there beyond the gravitational field, he somehow reached back, cradled the ball with one hand and jammed it through the basket. For just a moment the crowd was stunned, then it erupted in full cry.
"I thought I had it over the backboard," said Simpson.
"He did," said Thompson.
Much has been made of the Carolina Connection Scheer and Brown have established at Denver. At different times the team has had no fewer than six Atlantic Coast Conference players on the roster. Gerard, the Virginian, says when the Denver crowd starts up, "It sounds just like the ACC tournament."
The coach has become a crowd puller in his own right. At 35 Brown looks younger than many of his players; in addition to possessing one of the more creative minds in the game, his rapport with "our kids," as he calls the Nuggets, is something to behold.
Brown laughingly mocks himself when he says of Denver, "I own this town." But he does. Lock, stock and barrels of Coors. His life-style revolves around a split-level town house, a silver Mercedes with an I'D RATHER BE IN CHAPEL HILL sticker on the back and closetsful of haberdashery. He squires beautiful princesses about town and takes his steaks at the Colorado Mine Company.
"When I first met Brownie, the only thing he said was, 'That's a great jacket, where can I get one?' " remembers Larry Rubin, a clothing salesman. "Now he'll call me up and say he needs more French jeans. He's only got about 25 pair."
"More than that," says Brown.
The coach is known to spend as much time exchanging goods and poring over wardrobe ideas with Rubin as he does moving a malcontent through waivers with Scheer. Says Nancy Sigelman, one of the exquisite women with whom Brown and Rubin are seen, "Larry and Larry are really Lucy and Ethel."