NEW YORK, April 27, 2021 – The NBA G League, Denver Nuggets and Grand Rapids Drive today announced that the teams have entered into a single affiliation “hybrid” partnership beginning with the 2021-22 season.
As hybrid affiliates, the Nuggets will control the Drive’s basketball operations and existing local ownership in Grand Rapids, Mich., led by Steve Jbara and a team of investors, will oversee the franchise’s business operations and community engagement. Grand Rapids, which will announce a new name and identity in the coming weeks, was previously the hybrid affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
“The NBA G League continues to be an essential destination for player development, and I’m so pleased to welcome the Kroenke family and the Denver Nuggets to the league,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “Steve Jbara and his team in Grand Rapids run an outstanding organization and I’m excited for this partnership to take both teams to new heights.”
“We are extremely excited about this partnership and look forward to what the future holds for our franchises,” said Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. “We know that Grand Rapids is an excellent organization and the collaboration we can have with our own G League team is something that will be hugely beneficial to our players, staff and organization. It’s just a great situation for all parties involved.”
The Nuggets have frequently used the NBA G League for player development over the last four seasons, assigning seven players and transferring seven two-way players through the flexible assignment and transfer processes. Additionally, Denver assistant coaches John Beckett and Jordi Fernandez boast NBA G League coaching experience with the Delaware Blue Coats and Canton Charge, respectively. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, 10 Grand Rapids players have earned Gatorade Call-Ups to the NBA. Former Drive head coach Rex Walters is currently an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our partnership with Denver and am excited to welcome the Nuggets to Michigan and the Grand Rapids family,” said Jbara. “This partnership is a true testament to the Nuggets’ commitment to development and we’re so happy to be able to help the team continue those initiatives in Grand Rapids for years to come.”
About the NBA G League
The NBA’s official minor league, the NBA G League prepares players, coaches, officials, trainers and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Featuring 29 teams, 28 with direct affiliations to NBA franchises for 2020-21, the league offers elite professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. A record 45 percent of all NBA players at the start of the 2020-21 season boasted NBA G League experience. In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA Cares programs.
About Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
Denver-based Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) is one of the world’s leading ownership, entertainment and management groups. KSE’s portfolio of professional sports teams and venues include: Arsenal F.C. (EPL), the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), Colorado Mammoth (NLL), SoFi Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Ball Arena, Dick’s Sports Goods Park and the Historic Paramount Theatre. Additional properties under KSE’s umbrella include Altitude Sports & Entertainment, a 24-hour regional television network and Altitude Authentics, the company’s official retail provider.
About the Grand Rapids Drive
The Grand Rapids Drive are a member of the NBA G League and affiliated with the Denver Nuggets. The organization is committed to providing an elite level of basketball to the West Michigan community, while also investing in and contributing to the West Michigan community. The team is owned by SSJ Group LLC. For more information about the organization, visit www.nbagrandrapids.com or follow the team on its social media channels.