For the original defunct Denver Nuggets, see Denver Nuggets (original).
Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets logo
Conference Western Conference NBA Western Conference
Division Northwest Division
Founded 1967 (Joined NBA in 1976)
History Denver Rockets (ABA)
Denver Nuggets (ABA)
Denver Nuggets (NBA)
Arena Pepsi Center
City Denver, Colorado
Team Colors Midnight Blue, Sunshine Yellow, Flatirons Red, Skyline Blue
Media Altitude Sports and Entertainment
Owner(s) E. Stanley Kroenke
General Manager Artūras Karnišovas
Head Coach Michael Malone
Uniform Sponsor Western Union
D-League affiliate Iowa Energy
NBA NBA Championship logo 0
Conference Conference Championship logo ABA: 1 (1976)
NBA: 0
Division ABA: 3 (1970, 1975, 1976)
NBA: 7 (1977, 1978, 1985, 1988, 2006, 2009, 2010)
Retired numbers 7 (2, 12, 33, 40, 44, 55, 432)
Official Website
Denver Nuggets Home Uniform Denver Nuggets Road Uniform Denver Nuggets Alternate Uniform
Home court
Denver Nuggets court logo

The Denver Nuggets are a professional basketball team based in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Home arenas

Denver Arena Auditorium (1967-1975)
McNichols Sports Arena (1975-1999)
Pepsi Center (1999-present)

Franchise history


Logo, 1977-1981

A charter franchise in the American Basketball Association, the team was originally slated to play in Kansas City, Missouri before moving to Denver. They were named the Denver Larks before they changed their name and became known as the Rockets for their first seven years of existence, winning division titles in 1970 and 1975. The name "Rockets" was derived from the Rocket Trucking Company, owned by the team's owner and having the same colors (orange and black).

However, they tended to struggle in the postseason and failed to make a championship game during this span. They had a solid lineup led by Byron Beck and Larry Jones, then later by Beck and Ralph Simpson. During the 1969-1970 season, the team also had controversial rookie Spencer Haywood. Haywood was one of the first players try to turn pro before graduating from college, and the NBA initially refused to let him play in the league. Haywood averaged 30 points in his only ABA season, then was allowed to sign with the Seattle SuperSonics to start a productive NBA career.

In 1974, in hopes of moving into the NBA, a contest was held to find a new nickname for the Rockets, as the nickname was already used by the Houston Rockets. The name Nuggets won, having been the nickname first used by the Denver 1949-50 NBA franchise. Their new logo was a miner holding an ABA ball.

With the drafting and signing of David Thompson and Marvin Webster and the acquisitions of Dan Issel and Bobby Jones and with Larry Brown coaching, they had their best seasons in team history in their first two seasons as the Nuggets, with the team making the ABA finals in 1975-76. They would get no second chance to win a league championship, as the ABA folded after the 1975-76 season. The Nuggets were one of four ABA teams taken into the NBA, along with the New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. The Nuggets and Nets had actually applied to join the NBA in 1975, but were forced to stay in the ABA by court order.

The Nuggets continued their strong play early on in the NBA, as they won division titles in their first two seasons in the league, and missed a third by a single game. However, neither of these teams was ultimately successful in the postseason.


Alternate logo, 1977-1981

Brown left the team in 1979, helping usher in a brief decline in their team's performance. It ended in 1981, when they hired Doug Moe as a head coach. Moe brought with him a "run and gun" philosophy, a style of play focusing on attempting to score rapidly with little interest in defense, and it helped the team become highly competitive. During the 1980s, the Nuggets would often score in excess of 115 points a game, and during the 1981-82 season, they scored at least 100 points in every game. Anchored by scoring machines Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe at the two forward spots, Denver lead the league in scoring, with English and Vandeweghe both averaging above 25 points per game. It was a novel strategy, allowing the Nuggets to top the Midwest Division and qualify for the playoffs during that span. (On December 13 1983, the Nuggets and the visiting Detroit Pistons combined for an NBA record 370 points, with Detroit winning in triple overtime, 186-184.) In 1984-85, they made it to the Western Conference finals after being perennial playoff contenders, and they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. Vandeweghe was traded before the 1984-85 season to the Portland Trailblazers for 6-3 rebounding guard Fat Lever, undersized power forward Calvin Natt and center Wayne Cooper. Spearheaded by English and supported by the three new acquisitions and defensive specialists Bill Hanzlik and TR Dunn, the team replicated its success in the Western Conference despite the loss of Vandeweghe. However, they couldn't get pass the dominant team of the era, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Moe left the team in 1990, and his departure ended their run as a competitive franchise. However, the "run and gun" philosophy continued with coach Paul Westhead at the helm. He gave the green light for players like Michael Adams and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to light up the scoreboards within seconds of possession. This lead to even more scoring records, but that didn't translate into wins as Denver was the worst team in terms of number of wins for two consecutive seasons. That record enabled them to land at the lottery and draft 7-2 Georgetown University center Dikembe Mutombo in 1992, and University of Michigan guard Jalen Rose the next year. These two would lead the team into a brief resurgence in 1993-94 (a year they ditched their rainbow colors for a dark blue and gold scheme) finishing 42-40 and stunning the top-seeded Supersonics in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, falling to the Utah Jazz in game Seven of the second round, but it was a rare highlight following Moe's departure. The Nuggets were swept in the following year by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Denver was an also-ran for nearly a decade, and flirted with having the worst record NBA history in 1997-98, winning only 11 games in an 82 game season. They tied for the worst record in the NBA in 2002-03 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Logo, 1982-1993

The team has shown signs of another renaissance for the 2003-04, with the drafting of Carmelo Anthony and yet another uniform change (powder blue and yellow). In just two months of the season, they recorded more wins than they had in 5½ months of play in 2002-03. Much of the reason for this incredible turnaround were the front-office moves of General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe a former Nuggets player who assumed General Manager duties August 9, 2001, adding crucial personnel including: point guard Andre Miller, power forward Nenê, point guard Earl Boykins, center Marcus Camby and shooting guard Jon Barry. In April, the turnaround was complete as they became the first franchise in NBA history to qualify for the postseason following a sub-20-win campaign the previous year. They were eliminated in the first round four games to one by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

On December 28, 2004, head coach Jeff Bzdelik was fired from the organization and replaced by interim coach, former Los Angeles Laker player and Los Angeles Sparks head coach Michael Cooper, before finally hiring veteran coach George Karl as a permanent replacement. Karl lived up to his reputation by leading the team to an astounding record of 32-8 in the second half of the regular season which vaulted the team into the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Nuggets 1994-2003

Logo, 1993/94-2002/03

In the playoffs, however, the Nuggets could not survive the powerhouse defense of Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs. After winning game one in San Antonio, the Nuggets proceeded to lose the next four games and lost the series 4-1. The Nuggets picked 20th in the 2005 NBA Draft; it was acquired from Washington via Orlando.

In 2005-2006, for the first time in 18 years, the club won title to a weak Northwest division. This placed the team in the third seed of the Western Conference Playoffs. Due to their relatively weak record the Nuggets were forced to play the Los Angeles Clippers who, despite their 6th seeding, had a better record following a great season behind their NBA Most Valuable Player Award candidate Elton Brand. Based on their regular season records the LA Clippers received homecourt advantage. The first two games in the best-of-7 series were won by the Clippers 89-87 in game one and 109-101 for game two in LA. Game 3 was won by the Denver Nuggets in Denver 98-87. The Clippers went on to win the final two games and advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs for the first time in history since the franchise moved to L.A. for the 1984-85 season. On December 18,2006 the Nuggets traded Joe Smith and Andre Miller to the Philidelhpia 76ers for guard Allen Iverson.

Season-by-season records

Denver Nuggets Primary Logo (2)

Logo from 2003–08; royal blue changed to navy blue in 2009

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage

Season W L  % Playoffs Results
Denver Rockets (ABA)
(Not included in W/L totals)
1967-68 45 33 .577 Lost Division Semifinals New Orleans 3, Denver 2
1968-69 44 34 .564 Lost Division Semifinals Oakland 4, Denver 3
1969-70 51 33 .607 Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
Denver 4, Washington 3
Los Angeles 4, Denver 1
1970-71 30 54 .357 Lost Division Tiebreaker Texas 115, Denver 109
1971-72 34 50 .405 Lost Division Semifinals Indiana 4, Denver 3
1972-73 47 37 .560 Lost Division Semifinals Indiana 4, Denver 1
1973-74 37 47 .440 Lost Division Tiebreaker San Diego 131, Denver 111
Denver Nuggets (ABA)
(Not included in W/L totals)
1974-75 65 19 .774 Won Division Seminfinals
Lost Division Finals
Denver 4, Utah 2
Indiana 4, Denver 3
1975-76 60 24 .714 Won ABA Semifinals
Lost ABA Finals
Denver 4, Kentucky 3
New York 4, Denver 2
Denver Nuggets (NBA)
(Included in W/L totals)
1976-77 50 32 .610 Lost Conference Semifinals Portland 4, Denver 2
1977-78 48 34 .585 Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Denver 4, Milwaukee 3
Seattle 4, Denver 2
1978-79 47 35 .573 Lost First Round Los Angeles 2, Denver 1
1979-80 30 52 .366
1980-81 37 45 .451
1981-82 46 36 .561 Lost First Round Phoenix 2, Denver 1
1982-83 45 37 .549 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Denver 2, Phoenix 1
San Antonio 4, Denver 1
1983-84 38 44 .463 Lost First Round Utah 3, Denver 2
1984-85 52 30 .634 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Denver 3, San Antonio 2
Denver 4, Utah 1
LA Lakers 4, Denver 1
1985-86 47 35 .573 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Denver 3, Portland 1
Houston 4, Denver 2
1986-87 37 45 .451 Lost First Round LA Lakers 3, Denver 0
1987-88 54 28 .659 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Denver 3, Seattle 2
Dallas 4, Denver 2
1988-89 44 38 .537 Lost First Round Phoenix 3, Denver 0
1989-90 43 39 .524 Lost First Round San Antonio 3, Denver 0
1990-91 20 62 .244
1991-92 24 58 .293
1992-93 36 46 .439
1993-94 42 40 .512 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Denver 3, Seattle 2
Utah 4, Denver 3
1994-95 41 41 .500 Lost First Round San Antonio 3, Denver 0
1995-96 35 47 .427
1996-97 21 61 .256
1997-98 11 71 .134
1998-99 14 36 .280
1999-2000 35 47 .427
2000-01 40 42 .489
2001-02 27 55 .329
2002-03 17 65 .207
2003-04 43 39 .529 Lost First Round Minnesota 4, Denver 1
2004-05 49 33 .598 Lost First Round San Antonio 4, Denver 1
2005-06 44 38 .537 Lost First Round LA Clippers 4, Denver 1
Totals 1117 1311 .460
Playoffs 42 71 .372

Stats updated June 10, 2006

Players of note

Basketball Hall of Famers

Denver Nuggets Alternate Logo (1)

Denver Nuggets alternate logo introduced for 2005-06 season. The logo has twin yellow pick axes with mountain peak on a blue circle.



FIBA Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

Beck was the only player to play all nine seasons of the ABA with one team. These men, and team trainer Chopper Travaglini (1975-99), have also been elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Not to be forgotten

Current Roster

  • 5 - Will Barton
  • 25 - Malik Beasley
  • 3 - Craig Torrey
  • 6 - Brandon Goodwin
  • 14 - Gary Harris
  • 41 - Juan Hernangomez
  • 15 - Nikola Jokic
  • 20 - Tyler Lyndon
  • 7 - Trey Lyles
  • 4 - Paul Millsap
  • 11 - Monte Morris
  • 27 - Jamal Murray
  • 24 - Mason Plumlee
  • 1 - Michael Porter Jr.
  • 0 - Isaiah Thomas
  • 8 - Jarred Vanderbilt
  • 45 - Thomas Welsh
  • 34 - Nick Young

Starting Lineup: PG - Ty Lawson
SG - Randy Foye
SF - Danilo Gallinari
PF - Kenneth Faried
C - Timofey Mozgov


External links

National Basketball Association
Maurice Podoloff (1946 - 1963) ~ Walter Kennedy (1963 - 1975) ~ Larry O'Brien (1975 - 1984) ~ David Stern (1984 - 2014) ~ Adam Silver (1975 -present)
NBA Players ~ Foreign NBA Players ~ Former NBA Players
Coaches and Owners
NBA Coaches ~ NBA Owners
Annual Events
NBA Draft ~ NBA Summer League ~ NBA All-Star Weekend ~ NBA Playoffs ~ NBA Finals
NBA Awards ~ NBA Arenas ~ NBA TV ~ NBA Store ~ NBA Development League