13 People who turned their backs on the Denver Nuggets

These former Nuggets did not leave on the best terms.
Denver Nuggets, Andre Iguodala
Denver Nuggets, Andre Iguodala / Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
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7. Spencer Haywood

Before Nikola Jokic arrived in Denver, the franchise only had one MVP and it was back in 1970. They were known as the Denver Rockets in those days and were part of the ABA. The franchise became the Nuggets in 1974 and did not join the NBA until 1976.

Haywood helped Team USA win an Olympic gold medal in 1968 and turned pro after his two seasons of college basketball, which was not allowed at the time. The 6’9 forward got an exemption and never turned back. Haywood was MVP, Rookie of the Year, an All-Star, and first-team All-ABA in 1970 in Denver. He averaged 30.0 points and 19.5 rebounds per game and led the league in both categories.

Denver had a 20-year-old superstar, but a contract dispute with owner Bill Ringsby forced Haywood to leave and try to join the NBA. He was still only three years removed from college and had to win a court case against the league to be allowed to play.

Haywood made four more All-Star appearances, won a championship, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 6’8 forward was an all-time great but was unwilling to work with Denver to keep him. Who knows how many MVP awards Haywood would have won if he stayed, and the franchise would have been a yearly contender. Sadly, Haywood had other plans.