Nuggets Fever Hits Colorado; Opens Great Opportunities for Sports Fans

Rick Langenberg

Head to your favorite sports bar and  eatery this week and get ready for the great Labron versus The Joker duel.

To the dismay of skumbag national pundits, the Denver Nuggets are headed to the Western Championship finals and will square off against the LA Lakers, fielded by Labron James and company, starting today (May  16). This will be a great series and will undoubtedly command much attention at certain local establishments, as the Nugs try to answer the ultimate question: Is this finally their year and the time they can rid their reputation as a playoff choker or a D-minus team in post-season play.  So far, the answer is undoubtedly yes, but it has been a real challenge in convincing that point to the national sports media who are infatuated with the big city b-ball empires like LA and Boston.

The Nugs were the number one seed in the West, but based on media sentiment, they were almost treated as the bastard child of the league. Some in the media are now eating their words.

The Nuggets looked mighty impressive in winning the second series of the playoffs and eliminating the Phoenix Suns in six games. The Suns experienced a slight turnaround, with two consecutive wins at home, by employing a more fast-paced style of play.  But in reality, their brief hot streak was mainly  due to an extreme hot shooting hand by a few of their star players, such as Kevin Durant, but that kind of streak is tough to sustain for an extended duration in the playoffs.

In fact, that streak didn’t last, with the Nugs showing amazing defense and aggression in the final two games.

The final game in the Suns’ home turf turned into a 125-100 slaughter, which was virtually over with by the half. The league probably should have employed the mercy rule.

Finally, a few folks in the national media are following behind “Sir Charles” Barkley of TNT and are admitting the Nugs, often the self-proclaimed Roger Dangerfield of basketball, should possibly start planning an NBA title celebration. As Barkley has stressed for some time, the Nuggets just have so  much depth, not to mention the amazing creative wizardry of Nikola Jokic (The Joker) and the clutch shots of Jamal Murray. Murray netted 26 points in game six, while just lingering on a near death bed hours before the game. And there is the often under-rated play of Michael Porter, Jr.

And you have to love coach Michael Malone, who was suffering from a flu or by yelling at the media too much, and could barely talk. Still, you couldn’t keep Malone from uttering his wild comments and displaying much bravado on the sidelines.  Malone strongly came to The Joker’s defense, when he was fined $25,000 in a bizarre incident and clash with the Suns’ owner, Mat Ishbia, regarding efforts to retrieve a ball that went into the stands and apparently an exclusive fan area. The only problem here is that the main fan Jokic battled with a loose ball turned out to be the Suns’ owner. (Mat you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

Malone called the portrayal of the incident nothing less than “comical embellishment,” saying his players can’t discriminate from fans who try to go after balls that are still in play.

The Joker added a real sportsmanship touch by handing Ishbia the basketball and giving him a hug, in the following game.

Talk about a class act. But as far as reprieve from the $25,000 fine, no such luck Nikola.

The real winning card in the Nugs’ favor this year, is that even when they have experienced bad outings in the playoffs, they still have done reasonably well, and turned the contest into a real game. They only experienced one playoff loss in Round One, and that occurred in overtime.

In Round two, the Nugs did lose two games, but kept those games fairly close.

The often say a championship player or team is lauded more for how well they do, when they are definitely off,  instead of how  well they perform when they definitely shine.  Pro golfer superstar Tiger Woods, the winner of 18 major championships and nearly 85 regular PGA events, is a prime example of this accolade.  Of all of Tiger’s achievements, the  record he is most proud of is how  many 36-hole cuts he consecutively made in his career in PGA tournament play.

That list well exceeds 100, and to this day absolutely dazzles his competitors and the golf media and even recreational players.

I say, the Nugs will win in six games. The Lakers are the Lakers and still have a mystique in the b-ball world.


But their team this year is a far cry from the squad that featured Magic Johnson  and the late Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers, though, will win two games in the series but won’t be able to counter the home court advantage of the Nuggets. It will become a great series, so get a seat at your favorite local hangout.

Changing topics, the new schedule for Denver Broncos was released last week, highlighted by four prime time games. Ouch, as that’s not a good sign.

Besides serving as a real headache for fans and for area bar owners/operators, this prime time viewing experiment for the Broncos often turns into an unnecessary distraction. There is a definite curse associated with this prime time focus.

This seemed to start the downward plunge last year for quarterback Russel Wilson. It almost became a jinx.  But many pundits and locals are confident that Wilson will definitely fare much better in 2023, as long as he stays away from the golf course. Russ recently was recovering from a slight injury from overturning  a golf cart, when driving into a hazard. Well, that is what the reports say.  How do you tip over a golf cart at a premiere golf hub in Colorado.

Nope, contrary to some opinions, this didn’t happen at Shining Mountain and TMJ wasn’t involved in the mishap

Rather, this was just bad luck.

But in all seriousness, this prime time focus, which is occurring this year due to the NFL’s interest in Sean Payton, has got to shift  away from the Broncos. How does a team that only wins five games in the previous year get four prime time games?

The Broncs open the year, with a game against Evil Empire itself, the Las Vegas (nope, in our mind, it always the Oakland) Raiders.

Early prediction:  The Broncs will card a .500 record, but no playoffs. They will break some more hearts for local fans who enjoy watching their antics in area sports bars.

So, in other words, enjoy the Nuggets in the playoffs, as this is as good as we are going to get for post-season play for a Colorado professional team.  Local bars and eateries should take advantage of the situation and host a few Nuggets’ parties.

I know it is tough reality to accept,  but spare yourselves from the probable Broncos’ depression.