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Denver Nuggets: Who wore it best?

A mish-mash of Nuggets history and a game straight out of my wife's high-estrogen mags. Which team was the best one to wear each Nuggets uniform?

Emmanuel Mudiay trying on his new threads
Emmanuel Mudiay trying on his new threads
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Paul Lukas can (expletive deleted).

OK, depending on your imagination that may be a little strong, but in this year's "Uniform Watch 2015", ESPN's Lukas rates the collective uniforms of all 20 cities that have three (or more) major sports teams. Denver (Nuggets, Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche) ranks at...


Number 18. Out of 20. Ice whole. Here's what Lukas has to say about our fair city's athletic dress codes:

"You have to say this much about the Mile High City's teams: They use some interesting colors, like orange (Broncos), purple (Rockies) and sky blue (Nuggets). Too bad those hues aren't deployed to more tasteful effect."

We don't wear all three colors simultaneously, Paul. At least not sober or outside the house. Lukas actually ranks the Rockies uniforms the highest of the four, and admits he hates purple with a passion. (expletive deleted) yourself, Lukas.

Admittedly, most of my ridiculous and hasty emotion is based more on the passions of a true homer than a graphic designer, but this season's uniform change got me to thinking. Trying to find respite from my sudden irrational dislike of  Paul Lukas left me looking for something more positive, and trying to remember my own favorite uniforms. This led to wandering back across the history of Denver Nuggets uniforms, and remembering the best teams to ever play in each one. Think happy thoughts.

1975-1976: The last year of the ABA

(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys in their ABA year)

In their last ABA season, Denver's basketball team changed their name from the Rockets to the Nuggets, so there really was only one year in this jersey. Mathematically simple, but the best team to wear these jerseys was sort of a foregone conclusion. That said, David Thompson, Dan Issel, Byron Beck, and Bobby Jones carried Denver to the ABA Championships that year, Denver's only trip to the Finals in either league. Not too shabby, Pickaxe. The Skywalker sure looked good in blue...

1976-1981: NBA Beginnings

(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys 1976-1981)

Denver moved the pickaxe to "Maxie Miner" and their shorts in this uniform look, never achieving the success of their last ABA season. Denver's best team in this set of unis was their first, the '75-'76 squad that finished first in the Midwest Division with a 60-24 record. Most of those same names drove Denver's success in their first NBA campaign. A couple of fun years to watch basketball in the Mile High city. Thanks to Getty Images for this amazing shot of Issel in the roadies...

1981-1993: The Rainbow Skyline

(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys 1981-1985)
(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys 1985-1993)

Though there were a couple of background color changes along the way, the Nuggets wore the rainbow skyline for 13 seasons, and though there were several great teams along the way, probably none was better than the Midwest Division Champs of '84-'85 who made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals with Issel, Fat Lever, and Alex English. Though the '87-'88 crew had an even better record (54-28), Denver didn't see the conference finals again for over two decades (and a couple more uniform changes). Alex English was as smooth as it got...

1993-2002: Over the Rainbow

(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys 1976-1981)

The Nuggets nudged away from the skyline in 2003, going to a navy/burgundy/gold scheme and finding early success. Not much contest on which team was best in this one, as the first crew to don these unis wore them best - the 1993-1994 squad of Dikembe Mutombo, LaPhonso Ellis, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the crew that shocked the Seattle Supersonics in a first-round playoff upset. After that, a number of ugly years followed in this look. The iconic image in this jersey belongs to Deke, who cares if you can barely see it...

2003-2015: Kiki Sings the Blues

(road and home versions of the Nuggets jerseys 2003-2008)

Two years into his tenure as general manager, Kiki Vandeweghe took inspiration from his college power colors at UCLA, and brought the theme to Denver. This look is still familiar to us all, as it's only now changing for this season. Aside from minor tweaks, these were the uniforms of the last dozen years. The best squad in this uniform is ultimately the Western Conference Finals-playing team from 2008-2009 with Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, and Kenyon Martin leading the team to within two games of a finals series they might have well won. The 57-win squad of 2012-2013 was also a favorite, but they ended up losing the vote in both playoff success points and their alternate-jersey styles. (The dark blues of ‘08-‘09 were one of the best looks Denver ever fielded. Remember?)

(alternate versions of the Nuggets jerseys - 2005-2012 and 2012-2015)

2015-????: A New Era

(road and home versions of the Nuggets latest jerseys)

2015 brings a new jersey rollout that's only recently seen the light of day, and which opened to mixed reviews. (Change is hard, people. Give it a week or three to sink in before your final call.)

Most of the looks above lasted in the neighborhood of a decade. What Nuggets squad of the next 10 years will be the best to wear these jerseys? Will we remember one of them for a first championship? You'll notice several of the changes above worked best in their early going. Could the Nuggets keep that sort of luck going? How does Emmanuel Mudiay fill out the new threads?

Which Nuggets jersey was your favorite, Nuggets Nation?