Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos legend Peyton Manning gave a team a pep talk recently. However, it was not an NFL team. Manning did an hour-long Zoom call with the Denver Nuggets ahead of them resuming their season in the bubble. While all of the players seemed to enjoy the call, one NFL team probably isn’t too happy with Manning. He actually took a massive shot at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Peyton Manning did an hour-long Zoom call with the Denver Nuggets
According to The Denver Post, the Denver Nuggets had been trying to get Peyton Manning to address the team since last December. He is friends with the Nuggets’ governor Josh Kroenke. Manning ultimately spoke to the team for about an hour on Zoom before they left for the Orlando bubble.
“He talked about kind of the come-up, which I feel like we’ve experienced here as a franchise,” Mason Plumlee said to The Denver Post. “He’s like, ‘It’s easy to have bulletin board material when you’re taking L’s week after week, but then you establish yourself.’ … He was like, ‘We’re always at the top. What are you doing then to stay motivated, right? Because you can’t just wait around for the playoffs or the Super Bowl. You gotta be good every week.’”
Plumlee also said that Manning discussed how former Colts coach Tony Dungy responded to losses.
“The message I took away from it was that they never got too high or too low, but they just stuck with the process of work and really building camaraderie within their organization, especially among the players,” Plumlee said, according to The Denver Post. “It was neat to hear from his standpoint how that develops and what it ultimately became, which was a couple Super Bowl wins.”
Peyton Manning reportedly took a shot at the Los Angeles Chargers
One player also reportedly asked Manning for suggestions on playing without fans, which is what the Nuggets and the rest of the NBA will do in the bubble.
Manning, however, could not actually answer that question.
“He was like, ‘I’m just not the one to answer that question,’” Plumlee said, according to The Denver Post. “‘You’d probably have to ask somebody with the Chargers or one of these other teams.’”
He can, indeed, justifiably say this about the Chargers and their fans (or lack thereof). According to ESPN, the Chargers have been last in the NFL attendance each of the last three seasons.
In 2017, they averaged just over 25,000 fans per game. The next-lowest team was the Cincinnati Bengals, with an average of just over 53,000. The Chargers’ average was then just below 33,000 in 2018, compared to the Bengals’ nearly 51,000 and the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 1 average of 91,619 fans. In 2019, the Chargers’ average was just under 32,000 fans per game, compared to the Bengals’ average of just over 47,000.
Manning never had to really deal with those low numbers in his career with the Colts and Broncos.
Can the Denver Nuggets make some noise in the NBA bubble?
So, after Manning’s pep talk, can the Denver Nuggets now find some success in the bubble when the season resumes?
The Nuggets are currently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with a 43-22 record. They are just one-and-a-half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 2 seed, and one-and-a-half games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the No. 3 seed.
They certainly have the talent to make some noise, coming off a season where they lost in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Nuggets have one of the best big men in the NBA in Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 20.2 points per game, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists this season. Jamal Murray is also an excellent scorer as he is averaging 18.8 points per game to go with 4.8 assists.
The Nuggets also have four other players who are averaging 10 points per game or more in Will Barton (15.1 points per game), Paul Millsap (12), Jerami Grant (11.6), and Gary Harris (10.4).
The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers are certainly standing in the Nuggets’ way in the Western Conference, but they cannot be counted out with all of the young talent that they have.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference