THE DENVER NUGGETS AREN’T SATISFIED JUST YET. THEY WANT TO BECOME A DYNASTY

The vibes were immaculate.

The Denver Nuggets hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy on Monday to celebrate their first NBA championship in franchise history. Jamal Murray let loose tears of joy at the podium during the festivities. The locker room pounded music as players and staff celebrated for hours on end. Aaron Gordon led a crowd of fans into the streets of Denver. A true man of the people.

Denver Nuggets Capture First NBA Title Behind Unbreakable Chemistry

“Since day one in San Diego, it was something different about this team. I felt it. I felt some different energy and every day since then I had the same feeling. I’m not a really optimistic guy, but that gave me hope that we can do something,” said the two-time regular season MVP.

Bruce Brown, who put up 21 points off the bench in Game 4, one of the 20-best scoring lines by a reserve in an NBA Finals game ever, echoed his teammate’s statements about Denver’s special chemistry.

THE DENVER NUGGETS AREN'T SATISFIED JUST YET. THEY WANT TO BECOME A DYNASTY  | NBA.com

“Since day one in training camp in San Diego, we knew we could do this. We worked for this. Was it 17 of us, 15 of us? Worked extremely hard. Every practice, every game, we stayed locked in. We stayed together,” said Brown. “So I’m just extremely happy for the group.”

Though Denver blitzed past its competition in the postseason, losing just 4 total games throughout the entire run, the road to the championship was not without adversity. Two players on the roster missed full seasons with injuries.

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Murray did not play for the entirety of the 2021-22 regular season and two full postseasons while rehabbing from an ACL tear that he sustained in April 2021. Since then, Murray pushed through a grueling recovery process to play in 65 of Denver’s 82 regular season games in 2022-23. He then went on to put up truly eye-popping numbers in the postseason: 26.1 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game on a 47.3/39.6/92.6 percent shooting line.

“It was really hard to put into words,” said Murray about winning the championship. “Still is. Yeah, I couldn’t even hold it in. I don’t know. I couldn’t really hold it in. It was just a surreal moment. Everything was hitting. Everything was hitting at once, from the journey, to the celebration with the guys, to enjoying the moment, to looking back on the rehab, to looking back at myself as a kid, as the other viewer, looking from the crowd in or from the camera lens in, and now looking back at them.

Full recap, highlights and analysis of 2023 NBA Finals as Denver Nuggets  win first title - The Athletic

“It was a lot. I couldn’t hold it in. It was just something I’ve been working for my whole life… Every real hooper wants to be on this stage and play in the game and be in this moment. To see it full circle, going from my rehab, not being able to walk, go up the stairs, not just for a month or two. It was for a long time. A lot of different things going through my head. A lot of tears. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and real ones.

“Like I said, just to see it full circle and have total belief in myself, have the team have total belief in me, people back home have total belief in me, that’s all I could ever ask for, and just to see it like this is amazing.”

Michael Porter Jr. also missed time with three separate back surgeries, which kept him off the floor for the entirety of the 2018-19 season and all but 9 games of the 2021-22 season.

Nuggets Show Off A Key Group Of Veterans

“I’m not even supposed to be here, to be honest with you. After everything I’ve been through, I’m not really supposed to be a World Champion,” said Porter Jr. “But to do it with this group of dudes after everything that, I can’t describe it. I look back on everything, how hard I worked, and it just feels surreal.”

Head coach Michael Malone has been waiting for this moment for a while. He’s one of the longest-tenured coaches in the NBA having spent 8 years with Denver, and he’s worked within the league for more than 20 seasons. Murray, who’s played for Malone in all 7 of his NBA seasons, gave him major kudos for his growth as a coach throughout the years.

Nuggets shaking off team history, staking claim for first NBA title |  National Sports | hjnews.com

“I just thought he’s—not just this year—but each year that we’ve been together, he’s just grown in how to handle us,” said Murray. “I think that’s so important, the way you handle people in the locker room on and off the court, and he’s done an amazing job of just keeping us positive, coming to timeouts, keeping us positive, moving on to the next play when we make a mistake.”

So, what’s next for Denver? Well, according to Brown and Gordon, who shared the podium after the series-clinching Game 5 victory against the Miami HEAT… some celebration.

“Well, we’re going to enjoy tonight, of course. This is a night to be celebrated,” said Gordon.

Brown then interjected with, “A few weeks. Not just tonight. We’re going to enjoy this for a few weeks.”

BBC World Service - Sport Today, 'It means everything' - A huge win for the  Nuggets and Denver

Gordon quickly corrected himself and said, “A few weeks to be celebrated. But I believe that it can be replicated. The guys on this team are very humble. The humility is there, the IQ is there and these guys are workers. Championship or not, we don’t let it change our character.”

Don’t let the celebration fool you. The Nuggets aren’t satisfied just yet, despite climbing the mountaintop. There’s more work to be done. More championships to be brought back to Denver. Malone said it best: the NBA may have been introduced to the next dynasty in the 2023 NBA Finals.

“You go from an upstart to a winner and a winner to a contender and a contender to a champion, and the last step is after a champion is to be a dynasty,” said Malone. “So we’re not satisfied. We accomplished something this franchise has never done before, but we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and I think we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we’re capable of on the biggest stage in the world.”

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