The Denver Nuggets entered the NBA in 1976, nine years after they came into existence in the ABA as the Denver Rockets (1967). While, by the time they merged with the NBA (along with the Pacers, Nets and Spurs) there were the class of the ABA ... their NBA existence has been one of bad luck and misfortune (with stretches of good basketball).
If you are a Nuggets fans, you wouldn't be remiss in thinking that since David Thompson (the only real, TRUE, superstar in Nuggets history) cocaine'd himself out of NBA existence the Nuggets history has been one of star crossed bad luck and misfortune caused by poor management. You also wouldn't be far off in thinking that fortune OWES Nuggets fans a break. We have paid our dues, time to get the payback. It's arguable that, outside of Portland, no other team in NBA history has suffered more turns of misfortune.
It's time. It's time for fortune and luck to shine it's glow down upon the Mile High City.
Do it for the best team in Nuggets history. The 1975-1978 Nuggets that featured Thompson, Dan Issel and Bobby Jones and coached by Larry Brown. This team had more obvious star talent than any subsequent Nuggets squad, and was derailed by a poor trade (Bobby Jones for George McGinnis) a coach quitting (Larry Brown midway through the 1978-79 season) and Thompson's burgeoning drug habit. The 1978 Nuggets represent the best-ever chance the Nuggets had to win the NBA title, and were derailed by under-preforming to an inferior Seattle Supersonics team in the Western Conference Finals.
Do it for the 1985 Nuggets who played valiantly against a juggernaut Los Angeles Lakers team in the Western Conference Finals, only succumb to a series of injuries. Issel was about to retire and hurt his knee and hamstring during the series. Fat Lever had surgery before the playoffs began and was playing, off the bench, at only 60% health. Alex English already had a bad wrist, but was put out of the series in Game 4 ... when a frustrated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar deliberately broke English's hand with his right elbow. Up until that point the Nuggets were on their way to tying the series 2-2, and most importantly, the Lakers had no answer for English. After English was out, the Nuggets put up a valiant effort to end game 4, coming up short. Nuggets had no chance in game 5 and lost the series.
Do it for the Nuggets players who have been lost to catastrophic injuries. Calvin Natt (1986), LaPhonso Ellis (1994), Antonio McDyess (2001) ... and the players who had two microfracture surguries, Kenyon Martin (2005, 2007).
Do it for the 90's Nuggets. David Stern set the decade off badly when he didn't bother to make sure the ownership group who was PURCHASING THE FRANCHISE could afford, you know, to buy the team (Peter Bynoe, Bertram Lee). Subsequent bail-out ownership COMSAT/Ascent was barely interested in the Nuggets and left the team management to Bernie Bickerstaff (more on that later).
Do it for the Nuggets horrible draft history. Quite frankly, the Nuggets actual history of draft lottery luck is pretty bad. While there have been some "lottery pick hits" (Mutombo, Ellis, Carmelo Anthony), take this factoid into consideration. Between 1990 and 2003 the Nuggets finished with the worst record in the league or tied for worst record three times. Second worst record twice, fourth worst three times. During that stretch they drafted no higher than 3rd (1998, 2003). In 1991 they had, by far, the worst record in the league and drafted 4th!
Do it for the poor decisions made by past Nuggets management in the draft. In 1991 the Nuggets MOVED UP to draft (drum roll) Mark Macon. All it took was the 19th pick, Michael Adams and future draft picks to make this move. In 1996 the Nuggets made an all-time draft blunder and MOVED BACK on draft day in possibly their worst trade in history that send the 10th pick, Jalen Rose and Reggie Williiams to Indiana for the corpse of Rickey Pierce, Mark Jackson and the 23rd pick. The 23rd pick ended up being Efthimios Rentizas. Someone who never played for the Nuggets. Let us also not forget Tony "El busto" Battie, Nicoloz Tskitishvil (skita), and Mr. Unfortunate himself, with the third pick in the NBA Draft ... Raef LaFrentz. Subsequent drafts when the Nuggets were good weren't much better until Masai Ujiri came along.
Do it for a missed opporunity. The Nuggets managed to cash in on their good lottery picks (Mutombo and Ellis) and assemble great complimentary players for the famous 1994 miracle Nuggets. Things came apart rapidly after that run. What started out as a wonderful time when the entire city of Denver was behind a basketball team, turned into rage against Bernie Bickerstaff. It started with the knee injury to LaPhonoso Ellis, then a power struggle between Bickerstaff and Issel led to the only coach who was right for that team resigning suddenly mid-way through the season. This snowballed into Bickerstaff leaving the roster so bereft of talent that Allan Bristow (who took over for Bickerstaff in 1997) had to trade Antonio McDyess to get SOMETHING in return to begin the long, long rebuild.
Do it also for Carmelo Anthony forcing his way out of town. Do it for George Karl suddenly getting cancer in 2010. Do it for a great Nuggets team that never had a chance.
NBA ... if you are reading this column, this is but a fraction of what has happened to this Nuggets team. Please, on May 20th, shine your light upon us Nuggets fans and give us that stroke of good fortune that has eluded the franchise for so many years. Give the people of Denver, who have some of the most loyal basketball fans on the planet (may not be great in number, but those that are loyal are fiercely loyal) out moment in the sun.
It's our time. Yes, we only have a 5 point whatever percentage chance to move up in the lottery ... but stranger things have happened. We need our LeBron moment.
Give us that chance.
SAVE THE DATE FOR TUESDAY, MAY 20TH
DENVER STIFFS NBA DRAFT LOTTERY HAPPY HOUR
2-for-1 on all wine, well and draft beer as we watch the Nuggets
get TWO chances at a top-three lottery selection. And attendees can
WIN Nuggets game ticket vouchers and autographed memorabilia!