Striking gold


NOW that the Denver Nuggets have struck gold by winning their first ever National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, they leave behind their Gang of 12, now reduced to just 11 members, of NBA teams who have never won an NBA Finals.

Prior to their gilded season that ironically did not hail Nikola Jokic as the league MVP, the Nuggets were NBA bridesmaids—teams that have never won an NBA championship, even if some had been good enough to play in the NBA Finals.

By catching the bouquet and doing the honors, the Nuggets graduated from being just a bridesmaid to being the bride who must now bid farewell to erstwhile company who still ache and pine for an NBA crown.

Take a bow, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Nuggets themselves had ached and pined for decades to get an NBA title. They paid their dues, had sand kicked in their face, one time too many. Before they could sing “We Are The Champions” in triumph, they had experienced frustrations, bad starts, reversals of fortune.

In 2008-09 they finished the regular season with 54 wins and 28 losses, their best record since 1987-88. They reached the 2009 Western Conference Finals that season. But the following year, Carmelo Anthony asked to be traded.

Blessed with another good season in 2013, they suffered setbacks and uncertainty the following year. Andre Igoudala left to go to Golden State, leaving Denver without their most versatile player and perimeter defender.

Head coach George Karl was fired. They hanged their hopes on Emmanuel Mudiay, who is now out of the NBA and playing with the Cangrejos de Santurce in Puerto Rico. Before Nikola Jokic came round the mountain, Jusuf Nurkic was their big man.

Then in 2014 the seeds of the future were planted. The future two-time MVP who would be fondly called The Joker was selected by Denver as their 41st overall pick in the NBA draft. And the slow but sure build-up started.

Strangely, Jokic didn’t want to join the NBA after he was drafted. He wanted to continue playing for his club in Belgrade where he was already recognized as one of the best players in Europe. Young Nikola was MVP of the Adriatic League at 19. But fate is fate. He ended up in Denver, and the Mile-High City found a nugget of pure gold in Nikola Jokic.

The rest is history. Eight seasons later Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are on top of the world. He is the force of nature that has changed the Nuggets fortune. Always humble and level headed, however, he praises his teammates and says it’s always a team effort.

But Jokic ain’t no joke, man. The 2021 and 2022 MVP is the first player in NBA history to lead the playoffs in points (600), rebounds (269) and assists (186). He has strung up the most triple-doubles in one postseason (10) and is only the 11th player to score multiple MVPs and an NBA title. He is the first center to be hailed MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002.

Yet through it all he remains level-headed and humble. “He’s never changed with all the success, and he never will. It’s just not his nature,” said Nuggets coach Mike Malone after the golden moment.

“I love Nikola. Just for all of us to stay the course, to challenge ourselves, to all get better collectively, individually, It’s great to be a part of such a historically great player who’s an even better person. This is not coach talk. Nikola is a great, great man,” he told

Nikola himself imparted some rich words to “If you want to be a success, you need a couple years. You need to be bad. Then you need to be good. Then when you’re good, you need to fail, and then when you fail, you’re going to figure it out. I think experience is something that is not what happened to you. It’s what you’re going to do with what happened to you.”

Am so happy for the Denver Nuggets and how they struck gold.

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