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Denver’s most recent champions have a lot in common

Denver: the City of Champions!

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Denver now has three teams that have won a championship. Both the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Avalanche are three-time champions. The Colorado Mammoth has two championships, and Colorado Rapids have one championship. While the Colorado Rockies, unfortunately, don't have one yet, the other big team in the city managed to climb the mountain.

The Denver Nuggets won their first NBA Championship in franchise history in five games over the Miami Heat last night 94-89. It was a spectacular, topsy-turvy game which left fans on their toes for the entire affair. Having two championships in a city in the span of 365 days is spectacular, especially when the two have so many in common.

With the Avs winning last year and the Nuggets joining them and raising a banner to the rafters this fall, the comparisons are pretty spectacular.


Perhaps the easiest comparison is the records both teams held after they hoisted the trophy. Both the Avs and Nuggets ended their championship runs with a 16-4 record, putting away every team in their path with relative ease.

The opponents they faced

Colorado faced the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, and Tampa Bay Lightning in their path to victory. The Nugs had the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat.

In the first round, the Avs swept while the Nuggets needed five games against opponents who pretty simply had no chance against them. However, in both the second and third rounds both squads took apart their opponents in six games and then swept them in the third round.

In the second round, both had their hurdles with the Blues and Suns. Again, a lot of the focus was on the opponent and how they can be superior compared to the respective Colorado team. The Suns and Blues' end to their season came in very different ways, with a blowout and a last-second series winner to move on to the Western Conference Final respectively.

The storylines in those conference finals were about the other teams and their superstars: Connor McDavid and LeBron James. The message was “How would McDavid/Lebron respond? They can get back in this series but how? Colorado/Denver is vulnerable, there’s going to be a breakthrough and turnaround in the series and make it tough.”

Alas, both of them got swept in their respective runs. It made the national media turn their attention towards the Mile High City and show some respect to those stars who play in Ball Arena on a nightly basis.

Finally, while there are little to no comparisons between the dynasty of the Lightning and the underdog run of the Heat, both come from Florida which in it itself is a common theme! However, the Avs couldn’t win the Stanley Cup at home in game five like the Nuggets did, who are the second team in the city’s history to clinch their championship at home. The other team to do so? The 2001 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche.

The team: the stars

Every team has their superstars. The Avs had Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen. All three were stellar in the run to the Cup, stepping up and showing out. The same can be said about the two superstars of the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic, and Jamal Murray.

Jokic was by far the deserved MVP - similar to Makar - and broke records along the way, garnering tons of attention. The superstars did their job leading the way to the championship.

Depth players chipping in

Team depth was crucial too. Acquisitions like Artturi Lehkonen, J.T. Compher, and Nazem Kadri stepped up, as did Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Christian Braun for the Nuggets. They were underrated players in their runs to the top.

They may not get the headlines every night, but an occasional outstanding performance can make all the difference. Just look at Braun’s crazy game three in the finals along with Kadri’s return in game four of the final to win it in overtime for the Avs.

Veteran presence

Finally, veteran presence also was crucial to wrap the team all up in a bow. The two names for the Avs were Darren Helm and Andrew Cogliano, while for the Nugs it was DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green.

These individuals stepped up when called upon, and provided plenty of support, calm, and ease to the youngsters when needed to bring everyone along on the ride toward a championship.

Kroenke’s success

The Kroenke’s have had a ton of success recently with their teams. With the Avs, Colorado Mammoth, and Nuggets winning in the last two years, it has bulged the pockets of Stan and Josh even more than they already were. The Los Angeles Rams in the NFL recently had their championship as well, alongside the success of Arsenal in the English Premier League this last season.

They’ll be part of the celebrations once again, continue to make a profit, and hope their teams keep it up to make even more money. Whether they decide to invest it in improvements across their properties is unknown. Last year’s Stanley Cup also helped pave a path to success in winning the Larry O'Brien trophy this year, according to Josh Kroenke.

Same parade route

While probably on the lower end of similarities, the Nuggets' parade on Thursday comes just 350 days after the Avalanche’s parade right down the same route. It will draw in hundreds of thousands of fans as always, ending in Civic Center Park.

We don’t know how the celebrations will turn out exactly, but I think it’s safe to ask one question in particular: does another European player (specifically Nikola Jokic) follow the steps of a fellow European player (specifically Gabriel Landeskog) addressing the crowd in a prolific, foul-mouthed but incredible way?