(News4usonline) – The Minnesota Timberwolves needed more experience. The Phoenix Suns were top-heavy. The Los Angeles Lakers were only competitive after the trade deadline, and the Miami Heat was never supposed to be there.
On their way to becoming NBA champions, the narrative was never about the Denver Nuggets. Their opposition’s deficiencies were the subject instead of recognizing what Dever had become. The Nuggets are the best team in the NBA. It is time to talk about how good they are.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are the 1st pair of teammates in NBA history to each average 25+ PPG, 5+ RPG and 5+ APG for an entire postseason. pic.twitter.com/kjVJgKPL1U— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 13, 2023
During the regular season, Denver had the best record in the Western Conference from start to finish. Nikola Jokic was coming off back-to-back MVP seasons and established himself as the best player in the NBA. Entirely under the radar, they marched into the playoffs with extreme confidence. Nothing changed in the playoffs. The Nuggets played their game, and this time, everyone watched.
The national media refused to give Jokic and the Nuggets their respect until they swept a Lebron James-led Lakers team. Following the game two victory, Denver head coach Mike Malone talked about the lack of attention his team received despite taking the lead in the series.
“All everybody talked about was the Lakers. No one talked about how Nikola just had a historic performance… What he is doing is just incredible…. The Narrative wasn’t about the Nuggets. The narrative wasn’t about Nikola. The narrative was about the Lakers and their adjustments,” said Malone.
The only centers to win back-to-back MVPs before Jokic are Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Moses Malone. With a championship ring in his trophy case, Nikola Jokic has cemented himself as one of the best centers ever to play the game. He is an unbelievable talent that impacts the game in every way imaginable when he steps on the court.
Jokic has no ego, is not a flashy player, stays off social media, and does not have a signature shoe. A player of his stature could rarely be considered underrated, but he deserves much more coverage and praise than he receives, whether he wants it or not.
Long-time NBA player, coach, and analyst Mark Jackson left Jokic off his MVP list this season, causing an uproar as he was the only one out of 100 voters not to include the center in his Top Five. ESPN sportscaster Lisa Salters also made headlines this season when she claimed not to be familiar with the big man’s game.
“I have never seen him play before… Maybe I had a game of theirs in the bubble. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to watch him play,” said Salters, who ultimately interviewed the superstar postgame on the championship podium.
As the clock hit zero on Miami’s season, the confetti fell, and Denver’s best player shook the hand of every member of the Heat’s team before he celebrated the accomplishment with his teammates. Jokic leads by example and lets his play do the talking, something his Nuggets squad has adopted.
Denver’s other three star players, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr., have all validated themselves after having something to prove. Murray and Porter Jr. fought back from career-threatening injuries, while Gordon had only been to the playoffs once in six years before his time in Denver.
“It’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get back to this point… I know we proved a lot of doubters wrong,” said Murray.
Despite their record and talent, only a few picked them to win the championship. The Nuggets, however, had been on the cusp of a title for some time. If not for losing a tight series in the Western Conference finals to the Lakers in 2020 and Murray suffering an ACL tear in 2021 that caused him to miss the last two postseasons, the Nuggets might have already won. So it should be no surprise that the 2023 Denver team was the best in the NBA.
They are here to stay, and it is time to start talking about them the same way we talk about teams like Milwaukee, Boston, and Golden State. They are the cream of the crop in the NBA and will be for the foreseeable future.
A man of many words Jokic responded when asked about the championship victory, “It’s good. The job is done. We can go home now.”
The Denver Nuggets are five-to-one favorites to win the 2024 championship.
Benjamin Verbrugge is a student at CSU Dominguez Hill studying journalism. “Sports have brought me much joy throughout my life, and I want to be able to give a little back to something that has meant so much to me. I grew up in Los Angeles primarily following the Lakers and Dodgers, but I am also an avid fan of sporting events, news, and stories in general.”