Note: There are NOT any Game of Thrones spoilers in this post.
The Carmelo Anthony trade happened five years ago yet the final piece of that deal wasn't transferred until last Thursday when the Nuggets used the Knicks' 7th overall pick to select Jamal Murray. Had the Nuggets not included that pick swap in the trade package back in 2011, they would have picked 9th in the draft when the best players available were centers like Jakob Poeltl and Thon Maker. Both are talented guys, but the Knicks trade from long ago allowed the Nuggets to take a guy with slightly more upside and who fits the team's current needs just a little bit better.
It's a small detail that wasn't talked about much over the last few weeks. Perhaps it's because the Melo years are already starting to feel like ancient history, much like the Dikembe Mutombo years or the Doug Moe years. There's also a finality to the Melo chapter now that the ink is dry but that doesn't mean it is inconsequential. Every chapter in the history of a franchise has a backstory that spans decades with footnotes and details that are often as interesting as the central story itself.
This week's exciting Game of Thrones finale featured a big reveal that took viewers back in time roughly 20 years into the past to witness an event that shaped the story's arc. I won't spoil the details of that event but it helped provide context for a much broader, more important story in the world of Westeros. It's not the only backstory in the Game of Thrones world that is important. The show frequently uses exposition to tell of ancient Kings that span hundreds, even thousands of years. All of those backstories are small parts of a much larger epic that culminates, I assume, in some sort of grand finale.
The Nuggets will sit on the NBA's Iron Throne one day. It might be 5 years from now or it might be 100, but someday, the Nuggets will wear the crown. When they do, season's like this last one, as unremarkable as they were to casual sports fans, will form the backstory to a larger epic. The Carmelo trade might be the Tower of Joy, the 1994 playoffs will be the Blackfyre Rebellion, and the 80's Nuggets will be the Age of Heroes. I'm not sure if Jamal Murray will be Jon Snow, Rickon Stark, or something in-between but his time in Denver will be a part of a much broader Nuggets saga.
Casual fans will miss out on the subtle details of the decades-long legend and that is okay. Some people only tune in for the final showdown. But for those of us that live and breathe Nuggets basketball, the tiny details paint a much fuller image of what the Nuggets story truly is. With enough time and effort, one could trace the Jamal Murray trade all the way back to the team's inception, tying together the team's past, present, and future.
The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who writes for Silver Screen and Roll, the Lakers blog in the SB Nation network. He was frustrated about the fact that Kevin Durant wasn't interested in what the Lakers currently have to offer and was beginning to worry that tinsel town might have to suffer from another year of playoff-less basketball.
"I'm not sure how much more of this I can take," he said.
Are you kidding me? You won back-to-back championships six years ago! Some fans have no spine.
Fans of teams like the Lakers, or Cowboys, or Yankees, aren't like Nuggets fans. Their stories are mere fables. Short, kitschy tales with minimal suspense where sooner or later the king always regains his crown. For fans of teams like the Nuggets, our epic is much more brutal, more subtle, and more interesting. When 1.3 million people descended on downtown Cleveland last week, they weren't sharing in a moment of joy that followed a well scripted and expected outcome. They were there to shed 50 years of pain, and doubt, and suffering that led to one incredible moment of triumph. No matter how many banners they hang in Staples Center, Lakers fans will never know that joy.
All season long casual Denver sports fans questioned why anyone would watch a 30-win team with no hope of competing for a championship. The answer is the same as why anyone would read 100 pages about Aegon's conquest, or the Doom of Valyria. The ultimate story might not yet be written for the Nuggets, but there are plenty of interesting side stories along the way.
The Nuggets probably won't win a championship in 2017. I'm just excited about the next chapter that will be written, and curious how it will all play into a much bigger story.