It’s been 47 years in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets. Forty-seven years without an NBA championship. Even longer than that, without a title back when they were with the ABA, tonight, June 12th, 2023, the Denver Nuggets are NBA Champions! They beat the Miami Heat in five games and clinched the series on their home court.
I’m 21 years old, and I haven’t experienced all the hardships of Nuggets fandom in their history. The fall off after the incredible 1994 upset at the hands of the Seattle Supersonics, they went on to win just 11 games in 1997-98. I was there for the Melo years when the team got turned around, but never made it past the first round until 2009. I was there for the Brian Shaw era featuring the worst teams of my lifetime. It all changed in 2015 when the Nuggets drafted Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick in the draft, famously while Jokic was sleeping in Sombor, Serbia, during a Taco Bell Quesarito commercial. Since then, it’s been a long build, putting the best team around this transcendent talent.
It’s been eight long years of this era. With this win, I’m found, through tears, reflecting. I was thinking about all the guys that made this possible. Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Monte Morris, and many others helped make this team what it is. I think back to the night Jamal Murray tore his ACL against the Golden State Warriors when it felt like the final piece was added with Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline. That lasted eight games before the injury that took Murray out for two playoff runs. Two lost years as Nuggets fans endured Nugglyfe and Purgatory.
Everything led to this year. The year. Michael Porter Jr. returned from a third(!) back surgery, and Murray is back from injury. There were critical acquisitions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown to fortify the team’s defense. Drafting a rookie rotation player in Christian Braun, who’d play a crucial role in the Nuggets winning game three of this series against the Heat. Just an incredible team and build.
They proved it all season long, despite what national pundits said. This title is an “F, You” to the national media who wrote off the Nuggets. Every bad take they said about Jokic, every time they wrote off the team for the more star-laden teams like the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, every take that the Nuggets couldn’t build a great defense around Jokic, every take that Jamal Murray wouldn’t have changed anything in their last two playoff runs. This was for all of that. The banner will fly forever. The receipts will be dug up. We don’t forget the bad that was put on the Nuggets.
There will be a more measured and analytical view on this series at some point soon, but for tonight, Nuggets fans, celebrate! This team did it. Every player, every coach, and every fan that stood by this team, no matter how long, enjoy this. Nugglyfe is vanquished forever. No one can put us down anymore. We’ve climbed the mountain top.