Denver Nuggets Twenty Greatest: Twentieth - Juwan Howard

I know this pick for #20 is going to cause some long time Nuggets fans to go….Whaaaat?  Let me explain this rather strange beginning to my 20 Greatest Nuggets of all time list.  Juwan Howard came to Denver in some of the darkest days of the franchise.  He was a consummate Professional for his entire time here and was literally and figuratively, the face of a very bad franchise.  But he never complained, did all the interviews and kept as positive an attitude as could ever be expected.  He also was the best player on a very bad team and led the Nuggets in scoring in 2002-2003 with 18.4 points per game and was second to Marcus Camby in Rebounds at 7.6 per game.  I remember watching those teams in ’02 and ’03 and commenting that Howard had a championship attitude and played with championship effort on a terrible basketball team.  The story of how Howard came to Denver is a sorted tale of two teams going in different directions. He was traded to Denver by the Dallas Mavericks on February 21, 2002 along with the immortal Donnell Harvey, an aging and ineffective Tim Hardaway and a 2002 first round Draft Pick.  In exchange for Howard, General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe was able to dump the ridiculous contracts of Raef LaFrentz, Nick Van Exel and the completely overpaid at any price Tariq Abdul-Wahad along with Avery Johnson.  This move opened the Nuggets up $20 Million in salary cap room going into the 2002 offseason.  This trade also occurred just shortly after Dan Issel was unceremoniously fired for racist comments he made to a Hispanic fan at the arena after another Nuggets loss.  Mike Evans had taken over for Issel and to make a long story longer, the Nuggets finished the 2001-2002 season with a very embarrassing 27-55 Record.  Howard played in 77 of the Nuggets 82 games in 2002-2003 and was about the only thing, other than Camby, to watch during that season which ended with the Nuggets tying with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst record in the league at 17-65 under the not-so-expert tutelage of Jeff Bzdelik, who had taken over for Evans after the 2002 season.   The other reason I have included Howard on this list is that he was the best player on a team that was bad enough to get the Nuggets the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA Entry Draft in which they were able to select none other than Carmelo Anthoney.  So in a roundabout way, Juwan Howard was part of the resurgence of the Denver Nuggets Franchise.  After leaving Denver Howard played for several other teams including picking up Championship rings with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.  Look for Nuggets all time great player #19 in the next couple of days and continue to follow your Denver Nuggets on Twitter @Nugg_Love.

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