The nickname started years before when Smith and Anthony were involved in a brawl with the New York Knicks which landed each a suspension. But two seasons ago the team definitely lived up to the nickname; Smith was on the verge of serving jail time, Anthony’s DUI was fresh in everybody’s minds, Dahntay Jones was using his Bruce Bowen-style defense to get a guaranteed contract, Chris Andersen was fresh off his two-year drug suspension and Martin added lips to his tattoo repertoire. On top of that Allen Iverson was still on the squad.
The Nuggets had their share of run-ins with opposing teams during the 2009 regular season, there was Smith throwing an elbow at Antoine Wright, which enraged the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Nene headbutted Louis Amundson that sent Amundson to the floor and Nene out of the game. Anthony refused to leave the court when George Karl was going to replace him. The Nuggets also weren’t shy of letting the officials know their displeasure, they had two players in the top 10 in technical fouls and they were fifth as a squad in technicals.
The Thuggets image came to life in the playoffs as Jones’s physical play drew ire from opposing coaches and players. Byron Scott, who coached the Hornets at the time, was the first to comment on Jones’s play and Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson followed suite with some daring comments aimed at Jones. Rightfully so as Jones blatantly tripped Kobe Bryant and sent him to the floor.
Martin also got in the act against the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. K-Mart was dealt a flagrant foul in Game 1 when he sent Dirk Nowitzki to floor in the first quarter and then after Cuban had some words with Martin’s mom. K-Mart responded with his own profanity-laden tirade.
Jones has already left town, and it looks like Anthony, Martin and Smith are soon to follow. Leaving Denver with a new regime with a new rep in town. No matter what this new regime will be, it will never be as entertaining as the Thuggets.