If this keeps up, the Nuggets are going to be America’s new favorite basketball team.
But first things first. Before the Nuggets can become America’s team, I suppose the rest of the basketball world might actually have to learn the names of the gritty, little championship frauds from the lost time zone.
Yes, the Nuggets have heard the criticism of them.
“A bunch of frauds,” coach Michael Malone said.
Well, despite working on short rest, Denver went out Monday night and torched the Portland defense in a 121-113 victory.
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For those of you keeping score at home, this best-of-seven series now stands:
Fraud City 1, Rip City 0.
We’d say the Nuggets get no respect. And I dig those groovy new T-shirts, blue emblazoned with “Mile High City Frauds” in gold lettering, attire that’s a bit of spunky genius from my friends at Denver Stiffs and D-Line Company.
But that nobody-respects-us schtick is kind of a sports cliché, don’t you think?. And what’s closer to the truth? From ABC-TV commentator Jeff Van Gundy to the analytic gurus at 538, the Nuggets are regarded as harmless background noise basketball fans on the East Coast use to fall asleep.
For the most part, if America thinks of the Nuggets at all, they think: When do Steph and K.D. and the Beard play again?
We’re talking to you, LeBron James.
“C’mon, LeBron!” defensive stopped Torrey Craig joked in the Denver locker room after the game. “If you want me to keep wearing your shoes, you’ve got to get my name right.”
Here’s the context: On the evening of Game 1, James took to Twitter and saluted players from Portland and Denver who had the good taste to wear his sneakers.
The tweet from the King proclaimed: “Daniel Craig, Moe Harkless, and Meyers Leonard all rocking those ‘Martin’ LeBron 16 on the court in the same game.”
“Who is Daniel Craig?” asked Torrey Craig, genuinely puzzled.
Well, I explained, Daniel Craig is the actor who plays James Bond in the movies.
“Really?” the Nuggets’ Craig said. “It’s kinda sad LeBron got my name wrong the first time.”
Game 1: Denver 121, Portland 113
Game 2: Portland at Denver, 7 p.m. Wednesday, TNT
Game 3: Denver at Portland, 8:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN
Game 4: Denver at Portland, 5 p.m. Sunday, TNT
*Game 5: Portland at Denver, 8:30 p.m. May 7, TNT
*Game 6: Denver at Portland, TBD May 9, ESPN
*Game 7: Portland at Denver, TBD May 12, TBD
* If necessary
Hey, LeBron. Last I checked, your shoes were in the NBA playoffs. But you weren’t.
Jokic scored 37 points against Portland.
Not bad for a fraudulent most valuable player candidate.
In a recent poll conducted by The Athletic, 122 NBA players named their choice for MVP. James Harden (44.3 percent of the vote), Giannis Antetokounmpo (38.9 percent) Paul George (12.7 percent), Joel Embiid (1.7 percent), as well as Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard (all 1 percent) were recognized for their basketball excellence.
What, no love for Jokic?
C’mon, won’t somebody say something nice about Joker?
“He’s like a quarterback out there,” Nuggets teammate Paul Millsap said of the Joker. “I consider him like a Tom Brady. He’s always going to pick you apart and make the right reads.”
Denver needs to work on some things prior to Game 2. Not the team. The crowd in the Pepsi Center.
Hey, I love y’all. But your M-V-P chant for Jokic? It’s lame. The volume’s weak. Shout it. In unison. More cowbell. Please.
When the Nuggets were rolling in the second half, I sought out the only folks in the whole arena that do the M-V-P chant justice. They were nine dudes in Row 18 of Section 130. They were loud. They were proud. And they showed up wearing No. 15 to honor Jokic, except for one joker who apparently could only find an old Ty Lawson jersey in his closet.
“We’re all from Macedonia and Bulgaria,” explained Anton Boyadzhiev, pointing excitedly at the court.
“And the M-V-P? He’s the big Serbian right down there.”
The Joker. He’s the leader of America’s team. If Peyton Manning was PFM, shouldn’t Nikola Jokic be NFJ?
And if our gritty, little frauds from the Mile High City advance to the Western Conference finals, LeBron might even learn their names.