This week’s Nuggets basketball was almost more than my heart could handle. After hanging in there with two of the best teams in the league only to lose at the very end on Monday and Tuesday, the Nuggets pulled of an incredible win against the reigning MVP and his star studded roster on Thursday. As I’m sure you well know by now, Gary Harris drained a 25-footer right at the buzzer against the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring in the W for the Nuggets after Will Barton tragically missed two similar shots against the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs earlier this week.
While we can break down the Nuggets’ moves in the final moments of this week’s games to the gnat’s rear, the big picture is that they held their own and played their hearts out against some of the best talent in the league. Sure, there are things they could have done better, and there always will be. But, one thing is for sure—the games kept us entertained down to the last second.
Although the heartbreaking losses against Boston and San Antonio were hard to watch, it’s those buzzer beater moments that make sports so incredible. Harris hitting the three at the end against OKC is the type of play that gets you out of your seat cheering. For a brief moment, you’re connected to the strangers around you as you high five in celebration of the win. As sports fans, we live for those moments, and hopefully we are on the winning end of those moments more often than not.
With “buzzer beater” being this week’s buzz phrase (say that five times fast), I began to think back on some recent Nuggets buzzer beaters that I was lucky enough to see in person.
Almost four years ago to the day, the Los Angeles Clippers came to town. This particular season was the year after the Nuggets last winning season. The year after Coach George Karl was fired, and the beginning of what I like to call the Nuggets’ dark ages. Needless to say, the Nuggets were in need of a win to lift everyone’s spirits.
Denver had the last possession with seconds left on the clock, and Randy Foye was scrambling for an open look. With less than a second left on the game clock, Foye threw up a prayer from distance, and it went in without touching the rim.
JJ Hickson, and Kenneth Faried fell to the floor with Foye in amazement that he had pulled off that shot, and Pepsi Center was on fire. To this day I recall that moment with my brother who went with me to the game that night—we will never forget it.
Nearly one year before Foye’s big moment, Ty Lawson landed a win for the Nuggets against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This particular buzzer beater took place just weeks before Danilo Gallinari sustained the knee injury heard round the Nuggets’ world, and the Nuggets’ playoff hopes came crashing down in the first round against the budding Golden State Warriors.
The Nuggets again had final possession and Lawson was working to dwindle the game clock with the score tied 103-103. He stepped inside the three point line, and let go of his shot as the final second passed on the clock. His mid-range two pointer went in as it had many times before resulting in a Nuggets win.
Lawson then went into a strange celebratory dance that I can still picture in my head, and I left the Pepsi Center among chants of “Let’s Go Nuggets” filling the hallways.
Oddly enough, each of these buzzer beaters came at a very different time for the Nuggets. One came when they were well above .500, and riding high in the Western Conference. One took place when they needed a win to keep their fan base off life support, and one happened when their rebuilt roster had emerged and begun to blossom.
Each of these moments has kept me unbelievably excited about Nuggets basketball. Fortunately, we are on the uptick, and looking back they have come a very long way. Hopefully, their next buzzer beater comes as we watch them in the playoffs.
What was your favorite Nuggets buzzer beater moment? Let us know in the comments!