Each year, basketball season brings excitement, a sense of “what good will this year bring?”
Each year, the Nuggets sell us on improvement, yet first round playoff exits are the norm.
Each year, George Karl tells us the team is committed to defense, yet they are annually one of the worst in the league on D.
Each and every year, the Nuggets' season is ended early as they've never been the last team standing, never even been to an NBA Finals in franchise history.
Simply stated, it's difficult to be a Denver Nuggets fan.
The 2011-12 season was a special one to be sure, but it also offered the same refrain we've heard for years: Don't get your hopes up.
This year, the Nuggets began anew in the post-Melo Era, and they started incredibly hot at 14-5. It was enough to get any basketball fan in Colorado excited as Denver led the Western Conference.
But they quickly plummeted back to earth, dropping 7-8 games and were only 19-17 at the end of February.
Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri—always with a flair for the dramatic—saw his team was fading, and in March, traded long-time Denver bigman Nene to Washington in exchange for young true center JaVale McGee.
After the trade, the Nuggs finished 13-8 and moved into sixth in the West, which drew them a matchup with their nemesis, the LA Lakers. In five previous postseason matchups, the Lakers held a 5-0 advantage, but that wasn't the only thing going against the Nuggets.
In a league where David Stern began giving the power to the players two decades ago—allowing Michael Jordan to travel at will—the Lakers feature arguably the game's greatest current player in Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles also possesses stars Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, while Denver is devoid any star players.
Do star players really matter in the NBA?
To wit, there hasn't been an NBA Champion without a star in 30 years.
Die-hard Denver Nuggets fans may have had hope entering the first round series against LA, but they knew deep down the Nuggs had no chance of moving on.
Still, Denver dramatically pushed the series to seven games, for only the third time in franchise history, eventually losing to the more experienced and more skilled Lakers.
After Kobe sank that dagger three pointer, Nuggets fans sat deflated, wondering when the misery will end.
“There's always next year” is a phrase uttered by Nuggets fans across Colorado perennially, but it's cynically spoken.
For fanatics in the sports crazed Mile High City understand was a real winner is, and they have three other professional franchises in the city to devote their dreams of championships.
The Broncos have been religion in Denver since 1960, they've been to six Super Bowls and won two. The Avalanche moved in and won the Stanley Cup in their first year, and brought Colorado another championship in 2001. The Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010 and even the Rockies—usually the laughing stock of the MLB—have at least been to the World Series.
The Nuggets, and their fans, are still dreaming for the day Denver's professional basketball team can make a deep run in the playoffs and at least represent the city and the Western Conference.
And while there's a great makeup of young talent on the current Nuggets—Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried could all one day be stars—the end of the 45-year title drought dating back to their ABA days will stretch on indefinitely.
Until those boys on the Nuggets become men—learning the ins and outs of the game and what it takes to win in the postseason—Denver is stuck.
Until George Karl changes his ways—and he's more likely to quit than do that—the Nuggets won't be able to win in the playoffs because of their inability to run plays in the half court offense or defend opposing teams.
And until the Denver fans demand more out of their Nuggets—you know, actually creating a homecourt advantage during the regular season by cheering loud and proud—Denver will continue to be without an NBA championship.