For the first time in their history, the Denver Nuggets will play in the NBA Finals. They were one of six teams that had yet to qualify for the title series, despite having played in the conference final four. They are the children with the most playoff victories and the most winning streak that has never been in the finals, never until 2023. The team that came to the NBA in 1976 from the ABA, that has adapted to the league faster than any other and that has. he had to wait about 50 years to be able to fight for the ring at the end. Jokic’s team will try to break a franchise losing streak that began 56 years ago.
Founded in 1967, Denver has had a basketball team for nearly six decades. In the early years until 1976, the Nuggets were part of the new American Basketball Association, a league that changed basketball and eventually some of its teams were taken over by the NBA. They have played in ABA games all season, with legends such as Dan Issel, Bobby Jones, David Thompson, or the legend Spencer Haywood, the first player to be drafted without completing college. In 1976, the final year of the ABA, they managed to play, although they fell to Jules Erving and the New York Nets, a few months after joining the NBA with the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Nets themselves. In spurs.
Since then it has always been in constant ups and downs, until the rule was found in the last decade. Because in their early years they were by far the best of the four new franchises, playing in twelve games in the first 14 NBA seasons. Under the tutelage of first Larry Brown and later Doug Moe, the Nuggets were two-time conference finalists, first losing to the Sonics in 1978 and the Lakers in 1985. It was the age of Alex English, the greatest franchise he ever had along with Calvin Natt and Issella at the end of his career. The power of the West came before the dawn of the century: the Dikembe Mutombo era.
From 1991 to 2003, the Nuggets only played in the playoffs two seasons and won one series, in 1994. There were nine coaches in 13 seasons with only one positive. It was by far the worst season in franchise history since inauguration, surpassing seasons 11, 14 or 17. All that changed with Carmelo’s selection in the 2003 draft. The couple Melo and George Karl in the plan to cheer for Denver, to the conference finals again in 2009, when they again lose to the Lakers. They add 10 consecutive years entering the postseason, returning Denver to the top of the West. Carmelo’s departure to the Knicks was just a bump. Part of the process.
Mike Malone came in 2016, the same year as Nikola Jokic. Later in the summer it was Jamal Murray’s turn. Since then, the Nuggets have kept the same club and finally managed to overcome the glass ceiling that was in the conference finals and had a tie against the rival. They had played seven times and lost seven times until this week. Confidence in the initiative, continuity and patience was the key to giving time to the squad that emerged as the favorite to dominate the West, despite the arc. A team that will look to honor 100 years of basketball in Denver with the city’s first title.
And it happened that there were other Nuggets before the franchise that we know today. A team that has its origins in the thirties, and that went through the local leagues before appearing in the National Basketball League, which was absorbed by what we now know as the NBA. They lasted, indeed, one season in the best league in the world, in 1949/50, which began with 15 consecutive defeats and ended with 11-51. The first team in the history of the state of Colorado was, several decades ago, the Denver Broncos, the NFL draft, and the key to the “return of the Nuggets”. Because when the ABA franchise known as the Denver Rockets asked for a new name, the choice was clear: back to the roots, the Denver Nuggets.
Denver, Colorado, will be seeking its seventh title. Because the Broncos have three Super Bowls, and the Colorado Avalanche have three Stanley Cups, the first for the Nuggets, the sixth for a team that comes from the ABA, with five from San Antonio. At least 28 teams will be playing in the finals, with the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Pelicans missing. Now it remains to be seen if they will also become the strongest NBA twenty-first.
From Barcelona to the world, a sports journalist based in Toronto and covering the best basketball league on the planet. All NBA, a little basketball.