The NBA landscape is littered with Hall of Fame players that never won championships.
Consider Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Kemp, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Karl Malone and countless others among the players that had incredible careers that fell short in one way or another.
If I let my mind wander, I wonder what role officiating has played in the promotion of players/teams. If Barkley got calls like Jordan, would he be an NBA Mount Rushmore figure? More importantly, if the Sixers got calls like the Bulls….or Lakers…..or Spurs…would Barkley and Allen Iverson be seen differently by NBA history? Would Joel Embiid and Donovan Mitchell be facing off in game two tomorrow? The question may be a stretch but the sentiment is not.
Denver has a reputation that is founded on nothing specific to Denver. We don’t move up in the draft, ever. Free agents don’t consider the Nuggets. Denver is a flyover destination.
Honestly, empirically it doesn’t make sense. I understand players want to play in Florida because there’s no state income tax. Denver has a magnificent climate, there’s electricity, running water and even wi-fi. For the party enthusiast, every other storefront downtown is some sort of bar or club. I wouldn’t know what makes something a good club but there are plenty for comparison.
Denver has a built-in advantage for the home team with the altitude.
Most importantly, the other franchises in town (Broncos, Rockies, Avs, Rapids) have zero problem bringing in the biggest names in their sports. The disparity is specific to the Nuggets.
It seems the NBA likes to have their Washington Generals spread around for the markets they deem Globetrotter-esque.
Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, DC, Boston.
Sound familiar? We’re beat over the head with our shining cities and if you’ll note, only two of those teams are not on the eastern seaboard. Chicago, which has always been called midwest even though it’s neither mid nor west and Los Angeles which is, well, Los Angeles.
Everyone else has spent the last 30 years clawing at the scraps. The lone outlier being San Antonio and even then it took lucking into drafting David Robinson and building that team over a decade to the stalwart it currently is. Cleveland, in my opinion, doesn’t count because their success is tied specifically to LeBron James. LBJ is such an unbelievable force-of-will that he alone has pulled the Cavs into relevance.
When he leaves, so will Cleveland’s status.