PERSEVERANCE REWARDED: Livonia native played role in Denver’s NBA title

 PERSEVERANCE REWARDED: Livonia native played role in Denver’s NBA title

Denver Nuggets Assistant Coach Charles Klask is a 1995 graduate of Livonia Stevenson High School.

If a metaphoric highlight reel of Charles Klask’s NBA coaching career was spliced together, it would include more gritty, unglamorous screen-setting and diving for loose balls than slam dunks.

A 1995 graduate of Livonia Stevenson High School, Klask is a member of the 2022-23 NBA champion Denver Nuggets coaching staff — and his path to the position was anything but a layup.

After graduating from Michigan State University in 1999 — once a Spartan, always a Spartan — Klask, who served a stint as an assistant basketball coach for Rod Watts at East Lansing High School, pursued his basketball-coaching dream by sending resumes to every NBA team and every NBA minor-league affiliate.

The one positive reply he received was from the Continental Basketball Association’s Grand Rapids Hoops, who offered him a non-paid assistant coaching position that lasted two years.

“I considered it my tuition in grad school for coaching,” Klask told MLive in a 2016 interview. “I would just go into debt, take out credit cards, live off what I could live off, do a part-time job on the side and do this.”

Work ethic recognized

Klask’s work ethic and diligence with the Hoops led to a video intern position with the Detroit Pistons and a video coordinator position for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock in 2001 — again unpaid.

Charles Klask talks to Michael Porter Jr during a Nuggets practice
Charles Klask talks to Michael Porter Jr during a Nuggets practice

Klask secured his first paid NBA job with the Orlando Magic in 2002 — but it didn’t come easy.

The Magic’s two open video internship positions prior to that season were both filled; however, one of the first-year interns tragically passed away before starting the job.

“So they re-open the position and I go down and do the interview,” Klask told MLive. “They liked me and asked when I could start.

“I told them I packed my car and I’m ready today. I had go to to HR and fill out some paperwork, but I started the next Monday and I was there for 10 years.”

Klask’s amazing NBA journey included assistant-coaching stints with the Pistons (2011-13 and 2014-18) and Brooklyn Nets (2013-14) before being hired by Denver in 2018.

Golden chance with Nuggets

Having earned a reputation throughout the league as a first-rate player-development coach, Klask was named the organization’s NBA Summer League head coach in 2021.

“It’s a dream come true,” Klask told of his Summer League appointment after a pre-draft workout. “I’m very grateful to [President of Basketball Operations] Tim Connelly and Coach [Michael] Malone for this opportunity.”

During the NBA’s 2020 Playoffs — which restarted following a months-long COVID-19 delay in a “bubble” setup in Florida — Klask was praised for his mostly-under-the-radar ritual during the National Anthem.

Empowering Anthem ritual

While players and coaches kneeled during the Anthem during that stretch, Klask stood during the first-third of the Anthem, with his right hand placed on his heart — explaining he was standing for the people in the government and military, “because there are good people in there.”

For the second portion of the song, Klask would kneel and raise his right fist, the symbol of Black Power — to acknowledge Civil Rights leaders who sacrificed their lives for racial equality.

He then raised both his hands with both knees down — to honor the victims of police brutality.

Finally, he struck a praying pose, saying, “The world needs a big dose of God right now.”

Klask and his wife, Brienne, are the proud parents of two children.

Ed Wright

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