The first thing I remember about the game was my dad accidentally spilling a beer all over me. The Broncos had just scored a touchdown, and when he stood up to cheer, the young child (me) planted on the floor in front of him was closer than he thought, and his sidestep knocked over his beer. If you’ve ever attended a Broncos game, odds are good you’ve had beer spilled on you as well. Maybe he was just getting me ready for the experience.

Growing up in Colorado, we were Broncos fans. It seemed to be catching. I’m not certain if Broncos fandom is something that is imparted to you by family, fandom, or simply something they slip into your IV at birth in Colorado hospitals, but it’s a little hard to escape the orange and blue if you’re born to it.

It’s not true in every town you travel to… that they love their NFL team, I mean. Obviously, not EVERY state is rabid about the Broncos. Some towns are baseball towns, some are hockey towns, and there’s even the rare spot that is actually an NBA town. If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles for more than 32 seconds, you have probably seen a few of these flying around…

This content is no longer available.

If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, you’re a little more accustomed to taking the table scraps of oxygen left behind when Broncos fans stop to take a deep breath. The Nuggets have oft been the redheaded stepchildren of Denver sports, and frequently did themselves no favors to ingratiate themselves to their community. While the Broncos were going to eight Super Bowls since 1977 (winning three), the Nuggets were dropping just shy of the championship round twice. While the Broncos were becoming staples of the national television landscape, the Nuggets were often lucky to be on your local TV 82 games a year. It’s been hard on Nuggets Nation.

And while your Nuggets have some ground to make up on those eight championship round visits, they are finally making a strong argument to be the most compelling pro sports team in the Mile High City.

Let’s start with near-term potential. The Colorado Rapids have been losing more than winning of late. The Avs are on the rise, but not as hot as their Pepsi Center cousins. The Rockies fell off a cliff this year after last year’s hot streak, and the Broncos… well, things are off to an uncomfortable start for Denver football fans.

But your Nuggets are a league darling coming into this NBA season, with many pundits picking them to finally see their first Finals, before they’ve even reached their apex. Those words make Denver hoops faithful shudder with both anticipation and #nugglife negative reinforcement. The team is young, but not too young. Hungry, but not desperate. Close, cohesive, entertaining, and fun, these Nuggets could be at the top of the league for several years to come.

When it comes to overall talent, the Nuggets are also ahead of the crowd these days. The Rockies have some exceptionally talented guys, but seem to see many of them be hit-and-miss (pun intended) when it comes to production. The Broncos have a few players that will undoubtedly see the Hall of Fame, but are lacking in depth and versatility at several key spots. The Avalanche are almost as talented and deep as your Nuggets, but have yet to have gelled as a squad in the same way. The Rapids? No. Not at this moment, for sure.

As to coaching, the Nuggets are blessed with one of the league’s up-and-comers. While there are several other talented head coaches across the other major sports in town, none of them seems to hold court (pun also intended) with his crew the way Michael Malone seems to be able to with his young squad.

It will be a long battle, Nuggets Nation. Capturing the hearts of the Colorado sports faithful enough to be at the top of their lists will not happen this season, or probably even the next. But the current trajectories of each of the teams lacing them up in Denver gives your Nuggets their first realistic opportunity in years to win more of that mindshare/heartshare than they’ve owned in years. Can they reach the top of the heap? Will Denver ever be a Nuggets town?

This content is no longer available.