I was almost a teenager when my dad took a job at a TV repair shop. It was the first time I ever understood the eventual magic that would later become “picture in picture” for sports geeks around the world. Eventually, the unnatural extension of that paradigm looks like Adam Mares’ basement.

I was hanging out at the shop with my dad one weekend while he worked, and took over one small corner of the store with used TVs no one ever looked at. I was watching a few different sports on different TVs, including a boxing match between Mike Weaver and Big John Tate. It was the first boxing match I’d ever watched. Weaver was much smaller, and got his @ss handed to him for 14 rounds. And then this happened:

it was an interesting moment, both thrilling and disconcerting. The guy I was rooting for had come back from out of nowhere. How freaking cool. The other guy, was, uh… geez, hopefully breathing, right? I never really did end up on the boxing bandwagon after that. Amazing fight. Tate ended up being ok. I had to do some deep thinking about how much I had been cheering about the prostrate ring apostate. No, prostrate with an “r”.

I am always on the bandwagon when it comes to Colorado’s big four sports: The Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rockies, and Denver Broncos. The degree to which I am on each of those bandwagons varies by the amount of time I have, and frankly, the degree to which the team is succeeding. Though I am most firmly on the Nuggets bandwagon, I follow the fortunes of all four throughout their seasons. But when most any of them but the Nuggets are struggling deeply, I’ll often check in on wins or losses before I spend much time on replays or highlights. That’s partially why I had another picture-in-picture moment going in the extreme on Tuesday night when the Nuggets had their preseason rematch against the Lakers running at the same time that the Colorado Rockies’ postseason fate was decided in rather dramatic and rewarding fashion.

The Nuggets had yet another exciting win as well, with several good things happening early in the preseason in two contests against LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers. I introduce them as LeBron’s Lakers (TM), because that seemed to be the sole story of those 72 hours here in L.A. It was understandable, the coverage of the confluence of two of the NBA’s biggest brands. It was well worth a first view, and having the Nuggets be the team joining in on the spotlight during a couple of good wins was absolutely exceptional PR for your favorite team. But make no mistake, the broad fringes of L.A. Lakers fandom is back in full force out in Los Angeles. There’s a huge hardcore base that never leaves that bandwagon here, but when there’s something exciting going on in LakerLand, the fanbase swells to waves of enormous proportion. As a fan of another team, it’s sort of like surfing like these guys, but without the risk of death and sharks:

This was especially true as a Denver Nuggets fan over these last few seasons. As a team that had fallen off a cliff in fan attention around the league, stumbling across a Denver Nuggets fan in L.A. was akin to having a clear shot up I-25 at the Mousetrap in the late afternoon. It’s not like it’s never happened, but I never saw it. After a decade of living in L.A. the only places I saw Nuggets jerseys were at games the Nuggets played against an L.A. team, or twice when I happened to run into friends and fellow Denver Stiffs.

Until the last four months.

My wife and I were out for a celebration during the pre-summer break, and I saw a Nikola Jokic jersey at the mall. Ditto for more Nuggets gear during a trip to the movies the next week. Two more at a large bookstore a couple weeks later. In all, I may have seen ten pieces of Nuggets schwag worn in the last 120 days. When the new team colors came out, it was less than a week before I saw the new logo on the streets of downtown L.A.

That non-scientific observation of the Nuggets rise in popularity is also borne out by the rise in attention and popularity as a topic amongst those in the know this year, with expectations a fair bit higher for the team than they’ve been in years. Every good friend who is a basketball fan has asked me about the Nuggets prospects in the upcoming season. We’re not only on the radar, but people are noticeably excited. For those of us who never left the bandwagon, it’s a welcome bit of company along the way, the same as several of my more-faithful Rockies friends have (hopefully) understood my renewed full attention over the last third of the season.

Whether you’ve been riding this Denver Nuggets roller coaster through all of the highs and lows of the last decade, or are recently checking out one of the NBA’s shiny new toys, welcome. Either way, you may want to move over. It looks like we’ll have even more company along very soon.

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