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An appreciation of Jameer Nelson

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Jameer Nelson was waived today by the Denver Nuggets, ending a tenure marked by his competitive nature and drive to succeed.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not every day a 13-year veteran of the NBA has to say goodbye to the city of Denver twice, but that day has come for Jameer Nelson, who was waived by the team to make room for the newly-signed Richard Jefferson.

Nelson was originally selected by the Nuggets in the 2004 draft, but was dealt on draft day to the Orlando Magic for a 2005 first round pick that would become Julius Hodge (the Magic definitely won that trade).

Nelson played with the Magic for 10 years, leading them to the Finals and earning a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team before the Magic waived him in 2014. Nelson made his way to the Western Conference next, signing a contract with the Dallas Mavericks before getting dealt to Boston in the Rajon Rondo (disaster) trade. He was in Boston long enough to have a few cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (trash) before getting traded again, this time to Denver for Nate Robinson (good riddance).

After joining the team that originally drafted him, Nelson signed a three-year contract with the Nuggets in the 2015 offseason, giving new head coach Michael Malone a veteran point guard to trust as the team welcomed their first round pick Emmanuel Mudiay to the NBA.

Nelson always played with a chip on his shoulder, and although listed at 6’0” (if he’s 6’0”, I’m 6’3”), never backed down from a challenge. Nelson wound up guarding some of the best point guards in the league as a Nugget, from Isaiah Thomas and John Wall to Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry. Nelson wasn’t afraid of the challenge of being a starter, and acted as a leader for the team night in and night out.

Were there bad moments? You bet there were. But any player that has the courage to step up in the crucible of games is bound to make mistakes from time to time. We should remember him for his desire to be the best he could be, not for the occasional failure that came as a result of him giving a damn.

Nelson finished his career in Denver with appearances in 148 games with 3,783 minutes in blue and gold. He scored 1,313 points, had 700 assists, and made 195 3-pointers. He shot 38.8 percent on 3-point attempts last season, the 73rd-best rate for a Denver Nuggets player all-time.

Nelson is 88th all time in assists in the NBA, just behind Vince Carter and Andre Iguodala on the leaderboard for active players. I know that’s something he should take pride in. We’ll miss him here in Denver, and wish him well in the next chapter of his life, wherever that may take him. Unless it’s to Portland — then he’s dead to us.