Nuggets fans will have to wait until next year |

Nuggets fans will have to wait until next year

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I developed a liking for Denver’s pro basketball franchise back in the early 1970s when they were called the Rockets and played in the old American Basketball Association.

I don’t recall ever seeing the Rockets on television, though. Back then there was no such thing as cable TV and the team was never on the four channels that made up the whole of television viewing of that time.

I was left to listen to broadcasts of the games on KOA radio 850 out of Denver. Bob Martin was the voice of the Rockets and he would give vivid play-by-play descriptions of the action from the old downtown Auditorium Arena.

The Rockets soon morphed into the Nuggets and I was lucky enough to go see my first ever pro basketball game in the spring of 1975.

My brother-in-law, Rudy Steele, and I managed to get two of the last standing room-only tickets to the Nuggets ABA playoff game with the Indiana Pacers.

George McGinnis dropped that red, white and blue basketball through the net that day more times than I care to remember in leading the Pacers to victory and bumping the Nuggets out of the playoffs.

McGinnis was amazing and so was the experience of being there to watch it all.

The summer of that same year I attended the Nuggets basketball camp at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. The team was having its rookie/free agent camp the same week that I was there and I met coach Larry Brown (I got to hold the button down on the gym water fountain while he held his Labrador up to get a drink) and three rookies from North Carolina State who were at camp ” Monte Towe, Mo Rivers and David Thompson. Thompson went on to become a star and was pretty much the Michael Jordan of that era.

Thompson told us campers that he would practice between four to six hours each day growing up in Shelby, N.C.

I wanted to do the same. I was hooked on hoops.

My freshman year in college at UNC (that’s the Greeley school, not the real UNC in Chapel Hill), I attended most all of the Nuggets’ home games. I would make the hour-long drive to Denver in my VW bug, buy a $3 ticket, then sneak past the ushers down into the good seats.

Thompson was still playing then, as were Dan Issel and Alex English. The Nuggets were now in the NBA and it was an exciting time.

The start of the new basketball season is always exciting. Everyone has a shot at the title and there is hope everywhere ” including Denver.

I’m hoping for the best for my Nuggets this year but fearing the worst. I’m guessing a record of 44-38 would be considered a success for this year’s team.

It won’t be enough, though, because in the big picture of the NBA this year, it’s going to be bye bye Boston Celtics and hello Portland Trailblazers.

I’m picking the ‘Blazers to win the NBA title and leave us Nuggets fans, once again, waiting until next year.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports reporter for the Post Independent. Jeff Caspersen’s regular Thursday column will return next week.

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