The Denver Nuggets, needless to say, have taken some time away from the final four of the NBA. What was different about the world? You might be surprised.
In 2008-2009, the Denver Nuggets blew past both the Hornets and Mavericks in five games to secure a date with the Lakers in the western conference finals. That championship pipe dream was short lived, as they ran into a buzzsaw spearheaded by Kobe Bryant and the mighty Lakers.
Since then, the Nuggets have not returned to the doorstep of the NBA finals, and instead have remained on the outside looking in year after year. Last season, Denver lost a heartbreaker to the Portland Trail Blazers in seven games, losing the last of which on their home floor. The last time the Nuggets made it to within four wins of the finals, the world was a completely different place.
Three presidential terms ago, President Obama had just taken office, and Bitcoin had just been created. Denver would not make it past the first round again until a new president had been elected. Earlier on that season, every last passenger aboard a jumbo jet survived a one-in-a-million water landing on the Hudson River.
International soccer phenom Neymar had just made his debut with the Brazilian club Santos at only 17. Just before the playoffs began, the first case of H1N1 swine flu was confirmed in the United States. The first episode of Jersey Shore had only just aired, sending shockwaves through the entertainment world for years to come.
Just after the NBA finals, Michael Jackson passed away the age of 50. The top two best-selling movies of the year were “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” If you haven’t gotten it by now, it was a very, very different time.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, had an unrecognizable roster. Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and J.R. Smith led the Nuggets throughout a season in which the team was characterized as being led by renegade players who would simply try to outmuscle their opponents throughout the playoffs.
Arron Afflalo, Anthony Carter, and Ty Lawson comprised a tough backcourt around Chauncey Billups that crushed the Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs and did give the Lakers a strong run for their money in the western conference finals. Finally, George Karl led the team throughout that playoff run, only for him to suffer another one of many playoff defeats on his otherwise illustrious resume.
We’ve been through a lot as Nuggets fans, haven’t we? But Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic undoubtedly have us moving up in the world. Once the NBA resumes play, the Nuggets will have their best chance yet to finally break through and appear once more in the western conference finals.