The young Denver Nuggets had their fans believing again this postseason with their nothing to lose attitude.
That attitude brought back memories of the Nuggets run in 1994 when Denver entered the playoffs as the eighth-seed and rallied from a 2-game deficit to upset top-seeded Seattle Supersonics, who at the time were coached by current Nuggets coach George Karl. Ironically, Mike Brown, who is the Los Angeles Lakers head coach right now, was a scout with the Nuggets in 1994.
That team didn’t feature a star, instead the top player was perennial Defensive Player of The Year Dikembe Mutombo. And the image of Mutombo lying on the ground holding the ball is vastly remembered by Nuggets fans. More than anything that 1994 squad had a good mix of players, who brought something different to the game.
It also featured a very talented bench, which was led by Rodney Rogers, Brian Williams (who would later change his name to Bison Dele) and Robert Pack.
In the second round, the Nuggets fell behind 3-0 to the Utah Jazz, which was led by the dynamic duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton but would eventually battle back and force a Game 7, before losing 91-81. Their playoff run featured four overtime games.
- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is one of the most controversial NBA players of all-time, due his fiasco with the national anthem in 1996. But that controversy overshadowed a solid NBA career. The 6-foot-1 point guard was one of the best free throw shooters in the game, finishing with a career average of .905 percent from the charity stripe. Abdul-Rauf, who was drafted by the Nuggets as Chris Jackson (he changed his name three years later) with the third pick in the 1990 Draft, suffered from a mild case of Tourette syndrome and would spend hours after practice perfecting his shot. The Nuggets traded him to the Sacramento Kings in 1996 and he would play in the NBA off and on until 2000-01. Abdul-Raul continued his playing career overseas and was still playing all the way up until the 2010-11 season when he was a 41-year-old point guard with the Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan.
- Kevin Brooks wasn’t a big part of the Nuggets run, he only played a total of five minutes for the Nuggets in the 1994 playoffs. And that would be the last of his 3-year NBA stint. Brooks decided to take his basketball talents overseas to play for Australia’s Adelaide 36ers where he played with former Nuggets shooting guard Darnell Mee. Moving to Australia proved to be great for Brooks who would go on to be a team manager, assistant and head coach in the Australian Basketball Association. He is currently an assistant coach for a high school team in Australia.
- The Nuggets drafted LaPhonso Ellis with the fifth pick in the 1992 Draft and he provided the team with exciting plays on both side of the floor. He led the Nuggets in scoring in the 1994 playoffs with 14.8 points a game, but being 6-foot-8 he lacked ideal size at power forward. And injuries would eventually get the best of Ellis throughout his career. He missed significant time during his next three years with the Nuggets and then would miss time when he played with the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. Ellis, who is a Notre Dame alum, is now a college analyst for ESPN.
- Tom Hammonds was not a flashy player, but he provided toughness for the Nuggets. He didn’t play a lot in the 1994 playoff run, but when he did opponents knew he was on the floor. Hammonds would play four more seasons with the Nuggets before ending his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the NBA, he went into drag racing and has his own NHRA team.
- Darnell Mee really didn’t have a long and effective NBA career, spending two seasons as Denver’s 12th man. The Nuggets drafted him in the second round in the 1993 Draft and he played a total of 42 games (including two playoff games) with the Nuggets before playing in the CBA and then finishing his basketball career in Australia. He continued to play up until 2009 when he was 38. Mee is trying to continue his basketball career as a coach.
- Dikembe Mutombo was the face of the Nuggets squad. How can any Nuggets fan forget Mutombo celebrating on the floor after beating the Supersonics. That season, and the two following years, Mutombo led the league in blocked shots. However, in 1996 the Nuggets decided against matching the Hawks’ $56 million/5 year deal for Mutombo and let the face of their franchise walk without any compensation. While the Nuggets fell to bottom of the NBA, Mutombo played in Atlanta until 2000 when he was dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers for Theo Ratliff. Mutombo helped an Allen Iverson-led Sixers squad advance to the NBA Finals, where Philadelphia lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mutombo would then go on to play for the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and retired as Yao Ming’s backup in Houston. Mutombo is still working to improve his native country of Congo. Mutombo also received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown in 2010 and another from Harvard in 2011.
- Robert Pack may have been the most athletic point guard in the NBA during his playing career. He made a living of putting opposing players in posters. Just ask Michael Jordan. Pacman also played his best when it counted. During the 1993-94 regular season he made only six 3-pointers and nearly matched that during the 1994 NBA playoffs when he hit five. Pack also scored 23 points in Game 5 to help the Nuggets knock out the Sonics. Pack signed a multi-year deal with the Nets, but injuries derailed his career. His lone healthy season was in 2000-01 when he was Nick Van Exel’s backup in Denver. Pack retired in 2004 and was an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets in 2009 and is currently an assistant with the Clippers.
- Mark Randall finished his career with the Nuggets, where he played only two seasons. However, considering he grew up in Denver, he stayed in Denver. He is a Community Ambassador for the Nuggets and can been seen assisting Rocky during Nuggets games.
- Rodney Rogers was a rookie during the Nuggets’ playoff run in 1994 and he caused matchup problems thanks to his size (6-foot-7, 235 pounds) and ability to shoot. He is most known for hitting three 3-pointers in the span of nine seconds in his rookie season. Rogers would stick around Denver until 1995 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers with Brian Williams on draft day for Antonio McDyess. Rogers had four good years with the Clippers and then signed with the Phoenix Suns in 1999 and was chosen Sixth man of the year. Rogers played for three more teams before retiring in 2005. In 2008 he was paralyzed from the shoulders down after getting in a wreck on a dirt bike. He is not likely to walk again.
- Bryant Stith was a lot like current Nuggets’ current guard Arron Afflalo. Stith was a classy person off the court and played to the best of his ability on the court. He was a mediocre scorer and shooter, but was a hard worker on defense. And that was exactly what he was in the 1994 playoffs. Not flashy, but solid. And in 1995, Stith showed his quality when he re-signed with Denver for far less than what he was offered in the open market. Stith played for Denver up until 2000 when he was traded to the Boston Celtics for his former teammate Pack. Stith played two more seasons before retiring with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002. Stith is now a high school basketball coach in Virginia and has led his team to back-to-back state championships.
- Brian Williams was an extreme eccentric player. Example of that was when he changed his name from Brian Williams to Bison Dele in 1998, but in his time with the Nuggets he was one of the best backup center in the NBA at the time. Coming off of Denver’s bench, Williams averaged 8 points during the regular season, but stepped up his game in the playoffs to average 9.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He played with the Nuggets for one more year before being traded for McDyess. He would later win an NBA Championship with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and than retired in 2000 at the age of 30. Dele and his girlfriend went missing when they were sailing in the Pacific Ocean. It is believed that Dele’s brother, Miles Dabord is responsible for their deaths. However, Dabord overdosed on insulin and went into a coma before he provided the police any information.
- At the ripe old age of 29, Reggie Williams was the savvy veteran for the Nuggets 1994, but was also probably one of the most overrated players on the Nuggets squad. He was Denver’s second leading scorer but it was his defense that got him on the floor. He had a knack for picking the opponents pocket, but at the same time he could get up and block their shots. Williams played two more seasons for the Nuggets, but was dealt to the Indiana Pacers in 1996 with Jalen Rose for Mark Jackson. Williams retired in 1997 and is currently a high school coach in Washington D.C.
Tags: Antonio McDyess Arron Afflalo Bison Dele Boston Celtics Brian Williams Bryant Stith Chicago Bulls Chris Jackson Cleveland Cavaliers Darnell Mee Denver Nuggets Dikembe Mutombo Gary Payton George Karl Houston Rockets Indiana Pacers Jalen Rose John Stockton Karl Malone Kevin Brooks LaPhonso Ellis Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Mark Jackson Mark Randall Miami Heat Michael Jordan Minnesota Timberwolves New Jersey Nets New Orleans Hornets New York Knicks Nick Van Exel Philadelphia 76ers Phoenix Suns Reggie Williams Robert Pack Rodney Rogers Sacramento Kings Seattle Supersonics Theo Ratliff Tom Hammonds Utah Jazz