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How miserable are Denver Nuggets fans?

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According to ESPN, the Nuggets have the 8th most miserable fan base in the NBA

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As Denver Nuggets fans, we’re no stranger to misery. Much of the franchise’s history is riddled with losing seasons and missed opportunities—so much so that a slang term, NuggLife, has been coined to articulate what being a Nuggets fan is all about.

But how does the misery Nuggets fans endure stack up compared to the rest of the NBA? According to ESPN’s Sports Misery Index, Denver fans are the 8th most miserable in basketball.

Most of the weight of this exercise seems to be placed in the team’s recent playoff history:

“The Nuggets not only are in the midst of a five-year playoff drought, but they missed the playoffs on the final day last season via an overtime loss to the Timberwolves in a win-or-go-home situation. Denver hasn’t won a playoff series since 2009 and has never made it to the NBA Finals.”

In that regard, 8th place seems pretty reasonable.

After all, things could certainly be a lot worse. The Nuggets could be the Sacramento Kings, a franchise so broken that not only was it labeled as the most miserable fan base in the NBA, it was labeled the most miserable fan base in all of professional sports. The Nuggets could be the New York Knicks, one of the most historic sports franchises in NBA history that still cracks the top five because of questionable ownership and shoddy management decisions that have plagued the team in the past twenty years. The Nuggets could be the Minnesota Timberwolves, which made the playoffs for the first time in 14 long seasons last year and employ who will be a perennial All-Star in Karl-Anthony Towns but, could also be on the verge of implosion thanks to Jimmy Butler’s late offseason trade demands.

Fortunately, this thought exercise didn’t seem to truly consider external forces that current Nuggets fans would consider the biggest sources of misery at the moment. The obvious example is Denver enabling division rival Utah Jazz to draft franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell via draft night trades, then having to endure ridicule on Twitter for years afterwards. Other examples include Denver’s lack of a G-League team, and not providing state of the art facilities for the players, the reason the team is holding training camp at San Diego State this year. Occasionally, the team fills the Pepsi Center with fans, but far too often they are fans of the opposing team.

While Nuggets fans could certainly find things to complain about, the truth is that these Denver Nuggets are on the verge of something special - and that’s something a lot of fanbases would kill to have. How many fans would line up for the chance to cheer for a franchise-altering center like Nikola Jokic, or a sharpshooter with the swag of Jamal Murray, or the definition of a stays-in-his-lane player like Gary Harris? How many fans are desperate for a stable front office like the one Josh Kroenke has put together with Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas? How many teams (besides the Warriors) have guys turning down more lucrative offers to stay in town, or have their general manager decline job a interview for the most prestigious open position in the entire league? How many fans would do anything to root for a team as bonded and unified as this year’s Denver Nuggets, especially when stars like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are demanding trades?

NuggLife is a term of endearment, not a sign of depression. NuggLife has made us the fans we are today because of the ups just as much as the downs.

It has taken us through the high-flying ‘70s and 80s, the lowly 90’s, the 10 year playoff streak in the 2000’s. It has graced us with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, then tortured us with two miffed inbounds passes and a lost trip to the NBA Finals. It loomed over us all when George Karl got cancer, then again when Anthony demanded a trade, but favored us with a net positive return in the deal with New York. We were blessed with a 57 win team in 2013, but cursed with a Danilo Gallinari torn ACL, a Mole and the birth of the NBA’s next great dynasty. In more recent years, we’ve been given Jokic and Harris and Murray, Paul Millsap and Will Barton. Though the Nuggets have yet to make a playoff appearance with this group, they have never had more hope of a chance to succeed either. And that’s even with the Western Conference as competitive as its ever been.

NuggLife is the only life I know how to live. Does that make me miserable? Maybe. But at times I couldn’t be happier to root for this team.