I like movies. I like good movies especially.
One of the best movies of the 2000s was the Dark Knight, made in 2008 as the sequel to Batman Begins. It’s one of the rare sequels that far outpaces the original, in my opinion of course. The main reason? Intense ranges of emotion felt by each viewer.
Take this scene when Harvey Dent attempts to console the city of Gotham in one of the most pivotal parts of the movie:
“The night is darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming.”
This is a simple idea, but one that can be used in many parts of life.
Take the Denver Nuggets for example: they have had many ups and downs throughout their history. The last four years have been one of the most disappointing stretches as well, not necessarily in overall win count, but the extreme fall from grace from a 57 win team to a group of players that once cheered for the end of the season.
Those moments were difficult to embrace as a Nuggets fan. There were injuries, poor lottery luck, poor coaching decisions, poor front office choices, players that didn’t want to play, and players that shouldn’t have played. All of these occurrences contributed to a need for a dramatic franchise shift.
And then Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari re-signed unexpectedly, committing to the direction that new head coach Michael Malone spoke so passionately about. Chandler penned this lovely letter to the city of Denver and Nuggets fans, expressing his passion for bringing back winning basketball to this town.
Those two guys, along with Kenneth Faried, stayed with Denver during these dark times. The emergence of Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets youngsters has been much more important toward this team’s long term success, but stopping to appreciate the positives of those dark days is very important as well.
As many of you know, I’m a very young writer. 20 years old to be exact. The dark days are most of what I remember as a fan, as I didn’t become invested in this Nuggets team until after the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011. I remember being 13 years old, watching the Nuggets trade both of their biggest stars to the New York Knicks (Chauncey Billups left as well), and wondering what would happen to the team. Would they crash and burn? Would these new guys be any good? Why did Denver want Timofey Mozgov so badly?
As soon as I saw Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson start their first game together though, I knew things would be just fine. I loved the way both guys played, Lawson being the speedy jitterbug that could get past anybody and Gallinari being a magician with the basketball. There was a certain magic with those two guys on the court. The Nuggets went 18-7 during the second half of the season without Anthony or Billups, and that magic continued for the next two seasons.
Lawson in particular was the guy that drew me to basketball and to Denver Stiffs especially. My screen name was originally It’s the LAW SON, since it was the funniest Ty Lawson pun I could come up with as a 15-year-old.
For a long time, Lawson was my favorite player. One of the most difficult parts of the dark years was watching Lawson struggle with alcohol throughout the 2014-15 season. From pleading guilty to a second DUI, to missing his flight back from the All-Star game, to canceling his own camp with kids and spending time partying instead, it forced me to evaluate how I would support a player that became an anchor for others to carry.
It’s one of the reasons why my fandom focuses on the betterment of the team as opposed to just rolling with the players on the roster. As an athlete throughout high school and on and off during college today, I know what it feels like to be in a locker room where a player isn’t pulling their weight and is instead dragging others down. These decisions are always difficult, but they must be made to keep moving forward. Transactions are an integral part to the NBA culture and team culture in general.
Connections like the one Chandler made with the city of Denver are incredibly important; however, they cannot cloud the (hopefully good) judgement of decision makers in the front office and on the coaching staff. If those decision makers add a player that might replace a former fan favorite, I have found that looking at decisions through the lens of the decision maker makes things easier to bear. Sometimes, roster moves make sense, like the addition of Paul Millsap, even if they spell potential trouble for other players fans have come to love.
Paul Millsap is going to be a fan favorite in Denver the minute he steps on the court. He’s returning home, is working to embrace the community in Montbello and Northeast Denver, and he’s going to help the Nuggets win games while doing it. Him and Jokic are the best duo of players Denver has had on their roster since Anthony and Billups in the late 2000s and Anthony and Allen Iverson before them. As much as I loved the 2012-13 Nuggets with Lawson, Gallinari, Faried, Chandler, and Andre Iguodala as the main pieces, the whole was greater than the sum of their parts. These Nuggets are looking to field a similar team style with great passing big men, but the talent (at least in the front court) is undoubtedly better.
If you’re having trouble believing me on this whole Millsap-Jokic thing, just watch this 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks highlight reel.
This is a team that I can get behind. This group of players is one that I genuinely want to succeed. From Jokic and Millsap, to the lovable Gary Harris, to the Blue Arrow Jamal Murray, the Spanish Sniper (you’re welcome) Juancho Hernangomez, and to mainstays in Faried and Chandler, this is a group of players that I feel very comfortable rooting for. With so much talent and so little selfishness, I hope that Nuggets fans can join me in seeing just how freaking fun this team will be next year. The last few seasons have not had the same feeling, the same expectation, as this year, and I’m looking forward to watching the pieces come together to form a beautiful Nuggets puzzle.
I see the dawn, everyone. The darkness is disappearing. Let’s remember who helped the fanbase get through it, but also appreciate the new contingent and their excellence on and off the court
So now it’s your turn Nuggets Nation. When was the first time you started supporting the boys in blue and gold? Was it when Nikola Jokic became the next big thing? The 2012-13 Nuggets that won 57 games? The 2008-09 team that went to the Western Conference Finals? Or earlier than that? How many were around during the Alex English days? How about Dan Issel and David Thompson?
Nuggets fans come in all shapes and sizes, from all age groups and all over the world. Why do you support the Nuggets? Let us know in the comments section, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other ways to communicate with Denver Stiffs. I’m sure these stories will make for excellent Sunday reading.
Which decade do Nuggets fans remember most fondly?
This poll is closed
1960s - Spencer Haywood!
1970s - The Skywalker!
1980s - Alex English and company!
1990s - Dikembe Mutombo and the upset!
2000s - Melo provides a renaissance!
2010s - To be determined!