You need a superstar (or two!) to win a championship ...

Two Lakers superstars. 10 championship rings and 16 NBA Finals appearances combined between them.

Back in December, Nuggets head coach George Karl joined Scott Hastings and Mike Evans on FM104.3 The Fan and emphatically said: "Screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship." Well, I have news for you, George ... you do!

Magic Johnson
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
James Worthy
Larry Bird
Kevin McHale
Moses Malone
Isiah Thomas
Michael Jordan
Scottie Pippen
Hakeem Olajuwon
Tim Duncan
Shaquille O'Neal
Kobe Bryant
Dwyane Wade
Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce
Dirk Nowitzki

Those mere 17 names represent the victors of every NBA Championship - except one - since 1980. I didn't have to do any research to list them off. They come second nature to anyone who has followed the NBA since the early 80s. The names just roll off your tongue.

They are superstars.

And you need one of them - plus another All-Star or two - to win an NBA Championship. Heck, you need one of them just to get to an NBA Finals, hence why the likes of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Allen Iverson, Reggie Miller, Shawn Kemp, LeBron James and Dwight Howard always climb to the top of the "almost" list. And it should be noted that 12 of the 17 names listed above have lost in the NBA Finals, too. (Then there are the rare "superstars" who lost NBA Finals as superstars - like Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton - but then won NBA Championships later when they were no longer their team's best player but still very effective contributors and/or All-Star caliber players. And David Robinson's bad back had already robbed him of superstar status when he helped Tim Duncan and the Spurs win their first two championships.)

Karl - like many of us fans - was delusional when stating that this Nuggets team could win a championship without a superstar. It just doesn't happen.

The only time a team won an NBA Championship since 1980 that didn't have a superstar on it was the 2003-04 Pistons, but they had five All-Star caliber players in Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince and were able to defeat a highly dysfunctional, superstar-laden Lakers squad that featured Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal along with Malone and Payton gravy-training for a title. The Pistons followed that up with a Game 7 showdown against the Spurs in 2005, proving that a team loaded with All-Star talent can get as far as a team with a superstar and a few All-Stars.

But most unfortunately, the 2011-12 Denver Nuggets have zero All-Star caliber players.

I'm the last person who wants to kick our beloved Nuggets down even further from the 2-0 deficit they face against the always-have-a-superstar Los Angeles Lakers. And I still believe that the Nuggets will push this series to 7 games after besting the Lakers in Denver three times. But the 2011-12 Nuggets will not be the first team in NBA history to win a championship without a single All-Star on their roster ... nevermind that they have no superstars to speak of. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The 2012 NBA Championship will be won by one of the following superstars: James/Wade (Heat), Duncan (Spurs), Kevin Durant (Thunder), Garnett/Pierce (Celtics) or Bryant (Lakers). And James/Wade come to the table with All-Star Chris Bosh, Duncan has the exceptionally talented Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to play with, Durant has Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Garnett/Pierce are joined by All-Star Rajon Rondo and former All-Star Ray Allen, and Bryant gets to play alongside All-Stars Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

So what's the point of stating all these obvious facts here? All season long, I've warned (both here at Denver Stiffs and consistently on radio) against the over-optimism of this Nuggets team to do much in the post-season where superstars, half-court offense and defense rule the day. Conversely, this Nuggets team - fun to watch, fun to root for and deserving of our support - was built for a great regular season run where a balanced attack and a speedy offense win games.

It's just sad when reality starts setting in and another first round exit appears to be upon us. Our eighth in nine tries.

Unless, of course, the Nuggets can reverse the tide of NBA history. In a hurry ...

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REMINDER: STIFFS NIGHT OUT - GAME 5 is happening on Tuesday, May 8th at Jake's Food & Spirits. Join Andrew, Nate, Jeff, Colin and your fellow Stiffs as we watch the game on Jake's 10 HDTVs while Jake's serves up 2-for-1 drink specials all night long. Be sure to save the date for next Tuesday!
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