DENVER -- "I like cutting up people," said Denver Nuggets Coach Doug Moe.

Really, he does. Take the second day of the NBA team's training camp, when Bill Hanzlik participated in all of the drills even though he had offseason back surgery and wasn't expected to return until the sixth game of the regular season. He was out there banging with the big boys. What an inspiration to the team.

But that's not what Moe said.

"He has a long, long way to go," Moe announced. "I shouldn't have let him scrimmage. But you know Hanzlik. He's got nothing from the neck up. He's both stupid and amazing."

"At least I've got something from the neck down," Hanzlik retorted. "Doug has nothing anywhere."

Welcome to the world of the Denver Nuggets, that freewheeling, fast-talking franchise that is continuously egged on by a maverick who has infected his city with Rocky Mountain fever. What other coach can lay claim to being suspended for ordering his team not to play defense, fined for throwing water at a referee and condemned for conducting 60-minute practice sessions? In the process, Moe, who is in the middle of his eighth season with the Nuggets, has become the dean of professional basketball. No active coach has been with his team longer.

On top of all that, Moe has a pretty good basketball team this season. Don't expect any intricate strategy. The Nuggets, who average better than 118 points a game and give up 110, don't spend much time dissecting defenses or game plans.

"Doug is a seat-of-the-pants coach," said center Danny Schayes. "He adjusts well to the ebb and the flow of the game. We don't worry about studying every move of the eight or nine guys we're playing. That's overkill. We grab for the few details that can disrupt the other guys."

Despite a career winning percentage of .548, Moe is more famous for his antics off the court. What player wouldn't love a coach who used the team fine money for a group gambling night in Las Vegas?

"We only had $2,500 because, as you can imagine, we're not much of a fine team," said Schayes. "We took the whole team to the crap table. Doug knew what he was doing, so he placed the bets and the rest of us took turns rolling the dice."

Yet for all the stories of Moe's fun-loving exploits away from the game, there is another involving his overwhelming intensity on the court. His tirades and tantrums have left some players on the verge of tears and others on the brink of rage.

"I am the worst during a game," said Moe. "It's something I've tried to correct over the years, but I can't seem to do it. I can't stop yelling, and sometimes I yell brutally."

Such behavior can be disconcerting at times, especially to young players who are in crucial development years.

"I heard some stories when I got traded here {this season}," said former Washington Bullets guard Michael Adams. "And Doug is a very demanding coach. But he's fair. He has been in everyone's face since I've been here. It's not limited to certain people."

Ask former Denver forward Kiki Vandeweghe, now of the Portland Trail Blazers, how bad it can get. Moe yelled at him one game for not playing physically enough.

"I blitzed him pretty good," Moe said. "It was embarrassing. But I couldn't help myself. I kept yelling, 'Hit someone, Kiki! For God's sake, hit someone!' "

The tirade continued at halftime. When Vandeweghe returned, he leveled the player nearest him. The Nuggets' bench cheered as he was whistled for a foul. The next time down -- bam! -- same thing. Only this time, there was no foul called.

"I'm finding it hard to call fouls on Kiki," said the referee as he ran by the Denver bench. "I've never seen a human being get so abused by anyone. I feel sorry for him."

Doug Moe has never felt sorry for anyone. Not as a hard-nosed kid playing street ball in Brooklyn, not as a two-time all-America at North Carolina, where old coach Frank McGuire swears Moe's knee troubles started because of the hundreds of times he threw himself on the floor after loose balls.

The knees shortened his American Basketball Association career to five years, and the natural progression was into coaching.

First stop: San Antonio. It didn't take long for him to realize he and Spurs President Angelo Drossos didn't share the same sense of humor. Drossos didn't appreciate Moe's bursts of vulgarity on the sideline or his practical jokes.

"I remember one draft day, the coaches from all over the league kept sending notes saying, 'I'll be here at such and such a time,' " said Moe. "There was a different number for every hour of the day. The whole thing just cracked me up.

"So I wrote back and said, 'At such and such a time, I can be reached by phone at the ninth hole. An hour after that, I can be reached at the 13th hole.'

"Later on, when I got fired, they all said, 'All Doug Moe cared about was golf.' That was tough for me to get over."

It got ugly in his final days with the Spurs. One night he got in a shoving match with Drossos before a game. Moe pushed Drossos against a locker and left him heaving and gasping for breath. Moe took the court wondering whether he had just caused a heart attack and might face manslaughter charges.

It turned out to be hyperventilation, but no matter. Moe was fired before the 1979-80 season ended. His wife, known in these parts as Big Jane, bought a bottle of champagne.

The Nuggets have been his showcase ever since. Like the time against the Portland Trail Blazers, when his team was playing so poorly he ordered it to quit playing defense in the final minute. Infuriated, Jack Ramsay reported him to the NBA, and Moe was in trouble again.

"I got fined for that, and it really ticked me off," said Moe. "Jack Ramsay made a much bigger deal of it than he should have. He should have kept his mouth shut. I was trying to make a point with my team. It had nothing to do with him. I like Jack, though. But we are worlds apart."

Then again, there is no one quite like Moe, which alternately delights and horrifies his players.

"He can be very understanding and he can be very weird," said Alex English. "Sometimes Doug really tees me off, but I'm sure he feels the same about me."

What the Nuggets do agree on are the possibilities of this team. English can score, Fat Lever is playing like an all-star, recently acquired Jay Vincent (also from the Bullets) is providing punch and Adams is keeping the Denver tempo upbeat. Wayne Cooper, Calvin Natt, Schayes and Blair Rasmussen all average double figures up front.