Being a Denver Nuggets fan in Denver hasn’t always been easy as the popularity of the team has ebbed and flowed in extremes. In a city that has a large portion of it’s heart only dedicated to one professional sports team, it’s relegated being a Nuggets fan to a very small hardcore group that follows the team no matter what. Almost a bunker mentality to protect and constantly justify why you are a fan. The Nuggets have existed for 50 years and there’s a portion of the Denver populace that is shocked when they hear that. Way to go Denver.
This bunker mentality, which I admittedly possess, has created a devoted fandom to a team that has (very often) broken my heart, and has been it’s own worst enemy for the last 27 years. That fateful moment when Sidney Shlenker sold the team to two men who couldn’t afford to purchase it in 1989. Imagine trying to be a fan of an organization that posted one winning season in 13 years and was almost moved out of the city in 2000. A team that let it’s superstar defensive player walk away for nothing and essentially crippled the franchise, and traded another star when he basically said the team and the city wasn’t good enough for him.
There have been great moments though, and through it all I have been a FAN of this team. My devotion to the Nuggets hasn’t changed despite the challenges and my shift toward being as unbiased as possible with my coverage of them. It’s still there. I am a NUGGETS fan. I’ve earned that badge and I’ll be damned if I let it get watered down in an age that tells you “you should really like (player on other team) because (player on other team) is good and you should really appreciate that.”
You know what? Shut your hole. I’m a Nuggets fan and when the Nuggets get that player that everyone needs to appreciate I’ll sure as hell tell you to appreciate him. Am I a hypocrite? You’re damn right. I’m a fan of the freaking Nuggets! I don’t expect you to like me crowing about my player any more than you expect me to like you crowing about yours.
If that means that I have to constantly deal with ultra low-expectations and cheap ownership over the years ... then so be it. My fandom was forged through fire and I’ll be damned if I’m going to water it down with half-baked fawning over other players. I will spend every bit of my fandom hoping, until I can no longer hope, that the Nuggets will get that unfettered fawning that other teams get.
THIS fan got Alex English to sign his rainbow colored mini-ball in 1988. THIS fan cried with joy when the Nuggets defeated the Sonics in 1994. THIS fan loved the turn around baseline jumper of Antonio McDyess. THIS fan got to see Dan Issel pick up Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and swing him around with joy when Jackson hit a game winning three to beat the Phoenix Suns in the last game of the season in 1993. THIS fan got to see these Nuggets, led by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups come within two inbounds passes of advancing to the Finals in 2009.
My fandom was forged in fire. It was forged with the eternal hope that one day the sun will shine on this organization and they will get the damn recognition they deserve. I’m impervious to your star-shaming. You can’t test me. The only time I ever had split loyalties was the early 1990’s when I developed a liking of Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks. That ended in 1995. That was me just appreciating a team that didn’t play in the Nuggets conference during a time when Michael Jordan’s Bulls were dominating the league.
I don’t want to hear about how I need to get to league pass to watch Stephen Curry. I don’t want to appreciate James Harden or LeBron James. I’ll watch them all when they play the Nuggets. You can keep your all-NBA fandom. I’ll watch the Nuggets. I’ll never stop hoping and dreaming for that day when they throw off the shackles of 50 years and become that team we always wanted them to be.
One day my friends. One day. It will happen and when it does it will be glorious. In the meantime keep your haughty proclamations about being a Nuggets fan to yourself. It will only make me like them more.