Much has been tweeted recently about the lack of respect shown to the Nuggets by the national media. Tune into The Jump or First Take or any of The Ringer’s 168 podcasts, and you are unlikely to hear the Nuggets mentioned, even in passing, despite the fact that they have the third best record in the NBA, perhaps the most talent from top to bottom, and are building on a season where they were one shot away from being in the Western Conference Finals.
I know that this oversight seems unfair, nefarious even. But it’s not. The Nuggets don’t deserve praise or recognition or even discussion. Here’s why.
They play in a cow town
A recent poll probably showed that 75% of the country has never even heard of Denver. The other 25% “wouldn’t really call Denver a ‘city,’” much less home to one of the NBA’s most important teams. Unless you were born in this cow town, Denver is just a place you get stuck at the airport. It’s the place where someone you know has family that they’re forced to go visit over the holidays. I mean, let’s be frank: craft beer, snowboarding, and sunshine is so 10 years ago.
So congrats, Denver, on being one of the fastest growing cities in the country. If you were a real city like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, or Chicago, people would be leaving in droves. Sure, a lot of those people are moving to Denver. But they will continue to brag about whatever real city they come from. And once they figure out that the national media doesn’t care about sports in the middle of the country, they’ll move back.
They haven’t even won a championship before
There is one reason, and one reason only, to pay attention to a team: because they have won at least one championship in the past century. Can you imagine why anyone would want to spend a single minute talking about the Clippers, Sixers, Bucks, Jazz, Suns, or Magic? It’s laughable. The Lakers get the majority of the attention because 15 years ago they were good. And 20 years before that they were good. It’s that simple. Unless you can go back in time, insert Magic Johnson into a Nuggets’ lineup alongside Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English, don’t expect anyone to care that the Nuggets are on pace for 67 wins.
Relevance in the NBA has nothing to do with the roster, coaching, style of play, homecourt advantage, defense, matchups, or literally anything else. The only thing that matters is if a team in the past that wore a vaguely similar jersey was able to win it all.
That, and if that team played in either Los Angeles or New York.
Their best player is fat
Don’t give me all this “analytics” crap. Everyone knows who the best players in the league are just by looking at them. Who cares if Jokic averages more minutes than Joel Embiid, has a higher field goal and free-throw percentage, a higher +/-, runs the offense while playing in more games for a team with a better record? Greatness is skin deep. Take one look at this picture and try to tell me that this specimen isn’t obviously better than Jokic:
This is so obvious, in fact, that only Nuggets fans, in their delusion, think that a player’s on-court game is more important than his on-court look. How is anyone expected to watch Jokic’s pinpoint passing when we’re so distracted by his manboobs bouncing?
This is America. Get a superstar who looks the part first, and then you can start complaining about respect.
LeBron James plays for a different team
A simple fact seems to allude those asking for the Nuggets to get their just due: LeBron James doesn’t even play on this team. Last time I looked, he hasn’t even played for the Nuggets in the past, and he is unlikely to play for them in the future. So why should anyone outside of Denver care about this team? In fact, aren’t there plenty of seats at the Pepsi Center to accommodate the entire Nuggets’ fanbase—why are their games even televised?
Which brings us to the final, but certainly not only, reason the Nuggets deserve zero respect.
Their games aren’t even televised
Imagine being a Seattle SuperSonics fan. You tune into a Thunder vs. Nuggets game on League Pass so you can revel in OKC’s struggles while licking a kombucha popsicle. You pick Denver’s local coverage so you don’t have to be reminded of how your city got played by a bunch of flyovers, and you begin seeing ads begging Nuggets fans to call their cable provider to get the games back on the air.
You shoot out of your shabby chic chair, spilling organic American cheese slices and marionberries all over the graffitied concrete floor. “Denver isn’t even broadcasting Nuggets games?!” you yell.
“That’s right, fans,” says voice-of-the-Nuggets Chris Marlowe. “It’s a traveshamockery that you all are missing splendid Serbian hookers and the best Nuggets team since Hector was a pup!”
You are confused by that. You are also confused about how a professional basketball city could be so ungrateful as to allow their exciting young team to be blacked out this late into the season. But then again, you have lived confused since OKC swindled your city, so you plop back on your chair and ask the hitchhiker you just picked up to share an earbud.
Other notable arguments for why the Nuggets deserve no respect: they don’t have a player averaging over 20 points per game; free agents don’t even want to play for them; playing at altitude gives them an unfair advantage; and rEaSoNs.
If you do think the Nuggets are worth watching and discussing, then you’re a myopic homer who doesn’t understand how the league works. Talk to me when Jokic has a Nike commercial. Until then, keep watching games at the house of your one friend who has DirecTV and zip it.