The city of Denver has finally reached the heights of the NBA. After three Super Bowls (1997, 1998, 2015) in American football and three Stanley Cups (1996, 2001 and 2022), in ice hockey, the inhabitants of the city of Colorado can celebrate their basketball players. By winning (94-89) against the Miami Heat on Monday, June 12, in the fifth game of the final, the Denver Nuggets ended 47 seasons without a title in the North American basketball league. Since the creation of the franchise, the “nuggets” of Denver had never before managed to exceed the Western Conference final.
For years, Nuggets executives have patiently crafted a league-dominant franchise. And the coronation of the partners of the Serbian giant Nikola Jokic, crowned MVP of the finals, validates the work of the shadows initiated at the dawn of the 2010s, at the end of the “Carmelo Anthony era”, star and artificer of the crew.
If they are no longer part of it in 2023, former Nuggets leaders Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas have a lot to do with this success. Considered as “the architect of the team”, the first is at the origin of the arrival in Colorado of Nikola Jokic, selected in 41e position of the draft – this vast “purse” for young players – in 2014, Jamal Murray (7e choice in 2016) or even Michael Porter Jr. (14th choice in 2018). Now respectively at the Chicago Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Arturas Karnisovas and Tim Connelly have been replaced by Calvin Booth, who has also shown himself to be able during the draft and the transfer market to strengthen the team.
” Calvin is very important in what we produce every night on the pitch. I told Josh (Kroenke, owner) when Tim left: I have a feeling Calvin is more than ready to lead this franchise.” recently praised Nuggets coach Mike Malone for the current general manager’s influence on the team’s success.
A duo of madness at the service of the collective
Unlike other franchises, the leaders of the Nuggets have always left time for Mike Malone, in place since June 2015, to carry out his project. The five years without qualifying for the final stages (from 2013 to 2018) have, for example, changed nothing in the model of the Colorado franchise. Managers, aware of the youth of Michael Malone’s training, have always shown their confidence in him, despite years of complicated results.
The coronation of the Nuggets, Monday, is first and foremost the work of a shock duo. “It’s first and foremost a team effort. I say it and I’ll say it again: it’s the Denver Nuggets who have to beat the Miami Heat, not just Jamal and me.” however, pivot Nikola Jokic was annoyed after the third game of the series. The Serbian double MVP (“most valuable player”) no longer wants his breathtaking performances with Jamal Murray to eclipse the collective game produced by his partners. “It’s been four series in a row that our bench has done a remarkable job, also pointed out Michael Malone. Minutes without Nikola have been a topic of conversation all season. Our game might not be as slick without him but the five guys on the pitch are defending hard and that’s key. »
Strong winger Aaron Gordon, who embodies the talented youth that flourishes within the team, claimed this very special collective after the fourth game. “It’s a great group. The camaraderie is there, the cohesion is there, the talent is there, the game intelligence is there, the altruism is there… We really are like brothers, insisted the former Orlando dunker. It’s rare in the NBA to have a group of selfless players who buy in and really go out of their way for the guy on their side. »
End of a dream course for Miami
But Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray know it, their duo made it possible to fly over these NBA play-offs. The 2021 and 2022 MVP admired his Canadian teammate at a press conference. “He has been playing incredibly since the start of the play-offs. We’re just following in his footsteps, he’s a very good leader.”. Before number 27 responds: “Nicola? You have the impression that everything is easy for him, he recovers 21 rebounds and we will say that he does not know how to jump. He is strong and very hard on evil.
The Denver Nuggets became the 21st Mondaye crowned NBA champion team (out of thirty franchises). By ending the Miami Heat’s dream of putting a golden end to their high-flying playoffs. Arriving in the final phase as seeded number 8, Jimmy Butler’s teammates were not favored by the forecasts. But Miami successively swept Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks in five sets, before defeating the New York Knicks in the quarterfinals. The troops of coach Erik Spoelstra then defeated the Boston Celtics, after recovering from a disburt of three wins to zero. But that dream run came to an end when the Nuggets gold diggers finally clad in gold after 47 years of fruitless pursuit.