Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).
Ah, our glorious Nugpuppies. The Nugmeisters. The Nuggerinos.
They are Nuggerrific, aren’t they?
The Denver Nuggets are the best team in town. And no, it’s not just because they won the NBA title in 2023. It’s that every time out, no matter who is on the court, these Nuggets players give it their all, for each other and for their fans, in a game that I enjoy watching more than any other.
And since we have the No. 1 professional basketball player in the world leading our Mile High squad, I would say my opinion is highly defensible.
Of course, other Colorado sports teams certainly play their hearts out for each other and their fans, and I enjoy watching Rockies, Avs and Broncos games as well. (Sorry, Rapids and Mammoth. I hardly know ye.) But there is something exhilarating about the acrobatic moves, pinpoint training, physical finesse and on-the-spot playmaking necessary to excel in the NBA. And since the league instituted fines in 2023, there are fewer instances of flopping (looking at you, LeBron) so fans can better appreciate players’ mad skills without being turned off by their silly antics.
When I moved here from the East Coast in 1990, I quickly fell in love with the team and its players, such as LaPhonso Ellis, Dikembe Mutombo, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Antonio McDyess, Chauncey Billups, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Nene, Andre Miller, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Allen Iverson, Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Mason Plumlee.
Nuggets fans stuck with the team season after losing season, appreciative of what the players brought into our lives as representatives of the Centennial State and enamored of their individual hard work and sportsmanship (well, for the most part, but we won’t point fingers here). It was kinda fun rooting for the underdogs. For a while.
And then, in 2015, the basketball gods and the Kroenkes smiled on us, bringing us Nikola Jokic and a year later, Jamal Murray — the dynamic duo, who taught us all what selfless play and teamwork was about.
You just can’t beat a slick Joker pass to the Blue Arrow for a three-pointer late in a game for stand-up-and-scream excitement in any sport.
Laura Keeney, a former Denver Post reporter now living in Rochester, N.Y., is such a huge fan that she flew back to Denver to attend an NBA finals game and recently trekked down to Philadelphia to cheer on her Nuggets.
“I’d go as far as to say the Nuggets are one of the best sports teams overall, not just in Colorado,” she said. “Sure, they are all quite likable people who play with a physicality that almost guarantees games will be filled with excitement, but much of the same could be said about any of our Colorado teams.
“For me, the x-factor with the Nuggets has to be that they play for each other, as opposed to stroking superstar egos and striving for individual glory. We have a once-in-a-lifetime talent in Jokic (which is reason alone to mark them as No. 1), but even rarer is that he’s surrounded by a group of guys who unselfishly put each other first, and genuinely seem to like each other. It’s a rare and beautiful thing to see a team actually function as a team, regardless of their superstar.
“I truly believe the culture Moach (Coach Michael Malone) has built in that locker room will go down in history and be studied for years to come. Now, let’s run it back and get the next chip, shall we?”
What she said.
But do me a favor, guys? All those missed free throws are embarrassing. Brush up on those, will ya?
One for all and … all that.
First appeared on www.denverpost.com