Feature

Digging for Gold

With a new coach, a new front office, and at least four promising new players, the Nuggets’ 2013–14 season is certain to be a roller coaster ride of transition. We mined the history books and picked the brains of local analysts—and of the Nuggets’ new coach himself—to give you an insider’s look at the franchise’s past, present, and future. 

October 2013

Hoop Dreams
A history of basketball in Denver.
1895
James Naismith, having invented “basket ball” in 1891, moves to Denver to work for the Denver YMCA.
1935
Colorado’s first Amateur Athletic Union team, the Denver Safeway-Piggly Wigglys, plays at the Denver Auditorium.
1939
The team changes its name to the Nuggets for two seasons.
1949–50
The professional Denver Nuggets play one season in the NBA, finishing 11-51, before dissolving.
1967
Founded as the Denver Larks, the team becomes the Rockets after trucking magnate Bill Ringsby buys it for $350,000.
1974
Name change: The Rockets become the Nuggets.
1976
The team loses to the New York Nets, led by Julius Erving, in the last-ever ABA Finals before the ABA-NBA merger.
1977–79
Three straight excellent regular seasons are capped off with three straight premature playoff exits.
1981–82
The team scores at least 100 points for 136 straight games, averaging 126.2 per game—both records.
1983
The Detroit Pistons beat the Nuggets 186-184 in triple OT, the highest-scoring game in league history.
1984
McNichols Arena hosts its first NBA All-Star Game, highlighted by the inaugural slam-dunk contest.
1985
The Nuggets reach the Western Conference Finals for the second time before losing to the Lakers.
1987–88
The Nuggets win 54 games but are once again upset in the playoffs.
1990–91
The team gives up more than 130 points per game, earning the nickname ’Enver Nuggets (no “D”).
1994
The team becomes the first 8-seed to upset a top seed in round one of the playoffs, thanks to Dikembe Mutombo’s 31 blocked shots over five games.
1996
Converted Muslim Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) causes a national controversy when he refuses to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
1999
The team vacates McNichols Arena for the Pepsi Center.
2000
Stan Kroenke purchases the team and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
2003
A 17-65 record enables the team to draft Carmelo Anthony with the third overall pick. The Nuggets win 43 games the following season and haven’t finished under .500 since.
2009
A Western Conference Finals loss to the Lakers ends the Nuggets’ best season since 1985.
2011
Anthony is traded to the New York Knicks.
2012–13
Déjà vu. The team wins an NBA franchise-record 57 games before being upset in round one of the playoffs.

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