How The Nuggets Saved The NBA

In a time when NBA superstars have abandoned hope (and their fans) to join up in the so-called ‘Super Teams’, the Denver Nuggets have taken a different route and created the Anti-Super Team.

Two weeks ago the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and the mainstream media wrote the Nuggets franchise off and used the dreaded REBUILDING word, much like their non-superstar predecessors Cleveland and Toronto.

However, coach George Karl refused to buy into the notion of rebuilding and instead of building his team around a player, Karl and the Nuggets built the ultimate team’s team and have quietly improved to 5-1 since trading their superstar. The Knicks, on the other hand, have a pedestrian 3-3 record with ‘Melo, but yet have gained popularity.


NBA fans have this misconception that to survive in the NBA each teams needs a superstar.

But so-called superstars Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, Yao Ming, Stephon Marbury and Vince Carter have each come and gone in the NBA without leading their team to the promise land. While none of the five have a ring, they each have brought unwarranted popularity to their team.

And so when LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up in summer in Miami, the hype-machine ESPN declared the Miami Heat the new NBA Champions and despite their lack of success against the NBA’s best squads, the Heat are still getting more coverage and popularity than any other team.

But if you look at history, teams like Detroit and San Antonio have been two of only five teams that have won an NBA title in the last 12 years. Neither Chauncey Billups or Tim Duncan are what you’d call superstars, instead they are great basketball players that win and lose with a team mentality.

The other three teams that have won a title have gone on somewhat the superstar rout, but they also brought in players that played different roles. Kobe Bryant needed a big man and the Los Angeles Lakers, who first had Shaquille O’Neal, brought in help with Pau Gasol. Paul Pierce needed help in Boston, and so the Celtics added a former defensive player of the year (Kevin Garnett) and a top-notch shooter (Ray Allen). O’Neal and Wade teamed up with some role players to win a title in Miami.

But instead of justifying their needs, the Heat and Knicks decided to just bring in superstars. Wade and James both are more scorers than shooters and even Bosh is more of a finesse scorer than a true big man.

New York was in dire need of defense and instead of justifying its need the team brought in another top-notch scorer in Anthony to team up with proficient scorer Amar’e Stoudemire. Dangerous? Yes. Championship contenders? No on both.

And while fans in New York and Miami have grown, NBA fans across the nation have shrunk as they lose all respect for the NBA and its already overpaid premadonnas athletes.

The Need For An Anti-Star Team Is Now

When ‘The Decision’ occurred last summer it rubbed many faithful NBA fans the wrong way and when ‘The Drama’ happened in the Fall it made many more fans eager for the much awaited lockout in the summer.

It is no secret that the Nuggets popularity has shrunk since they dealt Anthony. And despite their recent success, they have been taken off of national television next Thursday (versus Phoenix) instead they were replaced by New York vs. Dallas. But by no means are the Nuggets a bad team or not fun to watch, in fact since the trade:

  • They have averaged 106.3 points a game
  • Allowed only 93.3 points
  • Averaged 24.5 assists per a game
  • Only had 12.5 turnovers
  • Have had a different player lead the team in scoring in each game
  • And have had 32 double-figure scorers

Those statistics are more familiar to the college level than the pros. And while fans still are struggling to find the face of the Nuggets franchise (many have suggested JR Smith due to his explosiveness), but what makes Denver different is that the face of the franchise isn’t a player but is instead the head coach, which is also rare in the NBA but much more common at the college level.

And for the first time in what possibly could be in his career, Karl has complete control of the Nuggets and he doesn’t have to deal with egos. Now he has the Nuggets winning and losing as a team, sharing the ball, playing defense and most importantly playing hard. The generic NBA fans won’t give them any respect without a superstar, but opposing teams are. Hopefully in time, fans will learn to respect what Denver has done – not just on the court – but for the NBA.

Tags: Boston Celtics Carmelo Anthony Chauncey Billups Chris Bosh Cleveland Cavaliers Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Detroit Pistons Dwayne Wade George Karl Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers New York Knicks Pau Gasol Paul Pierce Ray Allen San Antonio Spurs Shaquille O'Neal Stephon Marbury Steve Francis The Decision The Drama Tim Duncan Toronto Raptors Tracy McGrady Vince Carter Yao Ming

  • James Grayson

    Great Article!

    This was a great read because it just goes to show you that building a team is a lot more than getting “the guy.” I think that the Nuggets are a good ball-club but probably still need that one guy to sort of lead the way. They have a good mix of players and now they have some draft picks to acquire some younger talent.

    I think that depth is the most underrated thing in the NBA today. The Knicks sold it way short and now are in a spot of bother for the long run.

  • Sh

    Excellent post. I hope George Karl is happy, because I am. The Nuggets are really interested since Carmelo, um, left. Personally, I don’t have a problem that superstars are teaming up to play with each other. In my opinion, other teams will simply need to work harder, unless they just don’t want to win. Basketball is a team sport. Miami, for example, only have three players who score at least 10 points a game. (Chalmers is next with 6 points-per-game.) Teams like Boston and Denver, look how everything is distributed across the board, the way a Team should be.

    I for one love Raymond Felton. And I want to see him work hard to try and get a starting spot, though taking it from Lawson will not be easy. Regardless, this is about teamwork. Felton said he was focused on the team, on winning, regardless if he started. Felton, Gallinari, and Chandler significantly contributed to the Knicks positioning this year. I was really, really interested in them up until the All-Star break because of how they got to be a winning team for the first time in 10 years. Losing all those players, now I really pay attention to the Nuggets. Barkley said on Thursday night that, though Denver no longer has a superstar player, they are two deep at every position, unlike any other team in the NBA. I’m looking forward to seeing how deep they get in the playoffs.

  • Michael

    Tim Duncan is NOT a superstar?? I would like to sample some of whatever it is you smoked before writing that!

  • madness

    @Michael, I was waiting for somebody to bring that up. But the definition of superstar is:
    1. A widely acclaimed star, as in movies or sports, who has great popular appeal.
    2. One that is extremely popular or prominent or that is a major attraction.

    Tim Duncan in my opinion doesn’t fit either one of those definitions. Instead he is a blue-collar player and is a Hall Of Famer.

    • Hunstville Web Design

      Duncan even lead the Spurs long time ago, other superstars you mentioned didn’t even had a championship ring yet.

      • madness

        I don’t understand what you are arguing? Are you arguing that he is a superstar? If so you are wrong, because superstars are considered players with enormous amount of popularity, which Duncan isn’t. For how good he is/was, he never received the popularity that a guy like McGrady, Vince Carter or even Marbury got.