The Denver Nuggets, a renowned name in the National Basketball Association (NBA), have a rich history that dates back to 1967. Originally known as the Denver Larks, the team was part of the American Basketball Association (ABA) before making its way to the NBA. However, before their first season in the ABA even started, they changed their name to the Denver Rockets, a name they kept until 1974.
The Name Change and Transition to NBA
In anticipation of a merger into the NBA, the team underwent another name change in 1974. The name "Rockets" was already in use by the Houston Rockets, so a contest was held to choose a new team nickname. The winning choice was "Nuggets", in honor of the original Nuggets team in Denver from 1948 to 1950.
Joining the NBA
The Denver Nuggets officially joined the NBA in the 1976 season, following the ABA-NBA merger. They were one of the four teams from the ABA that transitioned to the NBA, marking a significant milestone in their journey. The Nuggets continued their strong play early on in the NBA, winning division titles in their first two seasons in the league.
Performance in the NBA
Since joining the NBA, the Nuggets have had a commendable performance. They qualified for the NBA playoffs in nine consecutive seasons in the 1980s and ten consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2013. Despite their consistent playoff appearances, the Nuggets had yet to appear in the NBA Finals until recently. In 2023, they finally broke through and won their first NBA championship, defeating the Miami Heat.
Notable Players and Moments
Throughout their NBA history, the Denver Nuggets have been home to several notable players. One such player is Alex English, who holds the record for most points scored in Nuggets history and was an All-Star for eight consecutive seasons during his time with Denver. Other notable players include David Thompson, Dan Issel, and Bobby Jones, who helped lead the team to its last finals appearance in 1976 as members of the ABA.