“It’s nearly impossible to get excited for the upcoming basketball season unless you’re in one of the few cities that houses a team with a legitimate shot – and the Nuggets aren’t in a position for that.”
Sometimes the grass is greener, even if the yard you’re looking into is owned by the Colorado Rockies.
Last week, I listened to the Colorado Sports Guys podcast which brought up the Rockies and its woeful record of playoff appearances. One of the hosts berated unsatisfied Rockies fans, stating that they should be happy the team made it a World Series in 2007. It’s true that it takes a lot of hard work and luck (especially in 2007) to get a chance at a championship ring, but only a Nuggets fan would be grateful and satisfied for just a shot. And our hometown pro basketball team is one of the sad few that have not made it past the conference finals.
The Rockies three playoff runs shouldn’t be celebrated simply because those accomplishments didn’t set them up for future success. Teams play to win it all and not rest on its laurels, but NBA fans are conditioned to be happy about participation ribbons. The Nuggets have been around since 1967 as part of the ABA and have been on the outside looking in ever since. The team made it to the NBA Western Conference finals twice, but that’s as far as the team has made it to a championship series. And they aren’t alone since five other teams haven’t made it to the show including the Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers.
As you can see, there are no Cinderella’s here.
The NBA is the league that has the least parity among the big four. It’s nearly impossible to get excited for the upcoming basketball season unless you’re in one of the few cities that houses a team with a legitimate shot – and the Nuggets aren’t in a position for that. The script rarely changes in the NBA playoffs. There are no Cinderella teams that get into the finals, and while maybe a three seed will stumble onto the scene, perennial favorites like San Antonio (and whoever Lebron plays for) are expected to win it all. It’s not too surprising in the NFL, MLB or NHL to see wild card teams go deep into the playoffs and be crowned champions in their respective leagues. Just look at this year’s World Series. No die hard Royals fan would’ve expected their beleaguered franchise make it to the World Series, but they are four wins away from bringing home a title to Kansas City. Maybe they’ll end up as the 2007 Rockies and just be happy enjoying the ride through the playoffs, but their story is something that you’ll never see in the NBA or for the Nuggets.
Yet still, great expectations abound.
The Nuggets lack star power and they will be in this tough spot for awhile. There isn’t a LeBron James or Kevin Durant on the roster and the team’s goals appear to be just making it to the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference. It was only a few years ago when Denver posted 57 wins and was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round yet again. And under Jeff Bzdelik and George Karl, the Nuggets ventured to the playoffs for 10 straight seasons. But nine of those appearances were of the one and done variety.
The Kroenkes wanted change after the most recent first-round playoff series flame-out to the Golden State Warriors in 2012 and they got it after they dumped George Karl for Brian Shaw. Media honks were clamoring for a change from Karl-ball and they also got their wish. Now we are happy if the team makes it to 48 wins in a season. The Shaw era had an inauspicious beginning with a 36-46 record, but the team seems to be a spirited bunch and fans are seeing better days on the horizon.
Some prognosticators expect the team to improve enough to secure a playoff berth with the return of Danilo Gallinari and some new additions including Arron Afflalo returning to the fold. Fans in Denver hope Shaw will prove the naysayers wrong and the team he’s molding will get this 47 year-old franchise to break the pattern of NBA dominance. Or at least do better than the Colorado Rockies.