Western Conference (NBA)

Western ConferenceWestWestern
The Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of two conferences that makes up the league, the other being the Eastern Conference. Like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference is made up of 15 teams, organized in three divisions.

Northwest Division (NBA)

Northwest DivisionNorthwest
The division consists of five teams: the Denver Nuggets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz. The division was created at the start of the 2004–05 season, when the league expanded from 29 to 30 teams with the addition of the Charlotte Bobcats. The league realigned itself into three divisions in each conference. The Northwest Division began with five inaugural members: the Nuggets, the Timberwolves, the Trail Blazers, the Seattle SuperSonics and the Jazz. The Trail Blazers and SuperSonics joined from the Pacific Division, while the Nuggets, the Timberwolves and Jazz joined from the now-defunct Midwest Division.

Pepsi Center

Denverin DenverDenver, Colorado
However, Denver Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke arranged a verbal agreement to book Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers on the same date prior to the Nuggets actually earning a slot in the playoffs. Though a contract existed to hold the venue for the WWE event and only a verbal agreement granted the Nuggets the venue, Kroenke stood firm that the Nuggets game would take precedence.

American Basketball Association

ABAAmerican Basketball Association (ABA)1969–70 ABA season
In 1976, its last year of existence, the ABA pioneered the now-popular slam dunk contest at its all-star game in Denver. The league succeeded in forcing a merger with the NBA in the 1976 offseason. Four ABA teams were absorbed into the older league: the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. As part of the merger agreement, the four teams were not permitted to participate in the 1976 NBA Draft. The merge was particularly hard on the Nets; the New York Knicks were firmly established in their arena, Madison Square Garden, and would not permit the Nets to share dates there.

Colorado Mammoth

The Mammoth have played at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, since the 2003 season. They are owned by Stan Kroenke, who is also the owner of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids of MLS. The Mammoth franchise previously played as the Baltimore Thunder from 1987 to 1999, the Pittsburgh CrosseFire in 2000, and the Washington Power from 2001 to 2002. Since 2014, Colorado has been the only non-Canadian team in the Western Division. In 2004 and from 2006 to 2008, the Mammoth lead the league in attendance. 2006 was the first year in the 20-year history of the NLL that the league had an attendance of more than one million fans in one season.

David Thompson (basketball)

David ThompsonDavid "The Skywalker" Thompson
He eventually signed with the ABA's Denver Nuggets. Explaining his choice between the establishment NBA and the ABA—which offered less real money (but more "deferred" over the life of the contract)—Thompson said when he met with the Hawks, the organization had seemed almost uninterested, to the point of treating him to a meal at McDonald's. Thompson also told the Denver Nuggets he wanted his friend and point guard at N.C. State Monte Towe to have a chance to play in the NBA, and Denver signed Towe to a 2-year contract. Thompson and Julius Erving were the finalists in the first ever Slam-Dunk Competition, held at the 1976 ABA All-Star Game at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche

However, Liberty was not interested in sports ownership at the time (though it has since purchased Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves), and made the deal contingent upon Ascent selling the Avalanche and Nuggets. After almost two years, Ascent sold the Avalanche and Nuggets to Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie for $400 million. However, a group of Ascent shareholders sued, claiming the sale price was several million dollars too low. Ascent then agreed to sell the Avalanche and Nuggets to Denver banking tycoon Donald Sturm for $461 million.

Lonnie Wright

He signed with the Denver Broncos of the American Football League on April 16, 1966, playing for the team in 1966 and 1967. As a safety, he intercepted one pass in the 1966 season and four more the following year. He caught a single pass in his career, losing two yards on the reception. Switching sports, Wright signed with the Denver Rockets (predecessor to the Denver Nuggets) on January 5, 1968, starting play with the Rockets just weeks after the end of the football season. A 6 foot 2 inch (1.88 m), 205 pound (93 kg) guard, he played for five seasons in the American Basketball Association, four seasons with the Rockets (1967–1971) and a single season with The Floridians (1971–1972).

National Basketball Association

NBABasketball Association of AmericaNational Basketball Association (NBA)
For example, in 2006, the Denver Nuggets won 44 games and captured the Northwest Division and the #3 seed. Their opponent was the #6 seed Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Although Denver won its much weaker division, the Clippers had home-court advantage and won the series in 5. The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays an opponent in a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. In the next round, the successful team plays against another advancing team of the same conference.

Doug Moe

Douglas Moe
He returned to Denver in 1980 to take over the head coaching reins from another UNC alum, Donnie Walsh. From 1980 to 1990, Moe compiled a 432–357 (.548) record and led the Nuggets to the postseason nine-straight years—advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals in 1985. He guided the Nuggets to two Midwest Division titles (1984–85 and ’87–88) and a franchise-record 54 wins in 1987–88. He was named NBA Coach of the Year that same year. Under Moe's direction, the Nuggets high-octane offense led the league in scoring in six of his 10 seasons in Denver. He is honored by the Nuggets with a banner that reads "432" for his number of wins as a Nuggets' head coach.

Marvin Webster

Webster, Marvin
Webster was selected in the first round of both the NBA and ABA Drafts in 1975 (third overall by the Atlanta Hawks, first overall by the Denver Nuggets, respectively). After signing with the Nuggets, he was diagnosed with a form of hepatitis, and played only 38 games as a rookie in 1975–76. A 7' 1" center, Webster helped the Nuggets win the 1976-77 NBA Midwest Division and the SuperSonics the 1977-78 NBA Western Conference title. His finest season was his single year with Seattle, in which he averaged 14.0 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game.

Kiki VanDeWeghe

Denver Nuggets profile. Basketball Reference page on Kiki Vandweghe.

Indiana Pacers

IndianaPacersIndiana Pacer
On November 9 in a home game against Denver, the team scored 54 points in the 3rd quarter alone, shooting 20–21 in the process, on the way to a 144–113 rout of the Nuggets. Led by Mike Dunleavy's 24 points in the period, the team set a franchise record for most points in a quarter and was only four points short of the all-time NBA record for points in a quarter (58) set in the 1970s. On January 30, 2011, the Pacers relieved Jim O'Brien of his coaching duties and named assistant coach Frank Vogel interim head coach.

Ralph Simpson

After two strong years at Michigan State University, he signed a professional contract with the ABA's Denver Rockets (later the Denver Nuggets), and he would represent the franchise in five ABA All-Star games. Simpson had his finest season in 1971–1972, in which he averaged 27.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. After the ABA–NBA merger in 1976, Simpson joined the Detroit Pistons, but his level of production dropped significantly, from 18 points per game in 1975–1976 to 11 points per game in 1976–1977, and after one-and-a-half seasons, he returned to the Denver Nuggets, now one of the ABA teams who had joined the NBA.

San Antonio Spurs

San AntonioSpursDallas/Texas Chaparrals
Their selection of Pittsburgh Panthers forward DeJuan Blair with the #37 pick was described as a "steal" by analysts; the Spurs later drafted two guards they had been targeting with the No. 37 pick, taking Miami Hurricanes shooting guard Jack McClinton and point/shooting guard Nando de Colo from France with the No. 51 and No. 53 picks, respectively. On July 10, 2009, the Spurs signed Detroit Pistons power forward Antonio McDyess to a three-year deal worth approximately $15 million in guaranteed money. The Spurs struggled with injuries during the 2009–10 regular season, but managed another 50-win season, finishing at 50–32.

Bobby Jones (basketball, born 1951)

Bobby JonesRobert Jones
Former Carolina Coach Larry Brown had moved on to the Denver Nuggets, and he was hell-bent on getting his hands on Jones. After acquiring his rights from St. Louis in exchange for the rights to Marvin Barnes, the Nuggets outbid Houston for Jones's services, offering him a seven-year, $1.4-million contract. With Brown at the reins and Jones in the frontcourt, Denver went 65-19 in 1974–75, the best record in the ABA that year and the second-best mark in league history. Jones shot .604 from the floor for an ABA record, scored 14.8 points per game, and won a spot on the ABA All-Rookie Team.

NBA playoffs

playoffsplayoffNBA Playoff
The Phoenix Suns, winners of the Pacific Division and possessors of the third best record, were seeded second, while the Denver Nuggets, winners of the Northwest Division and tied for only the seventh-best record in the conference, were seeded third. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers met in the second-to-last game of the regular season, after the top four seeds had been clinched. The two teams were already determined to be the fifth and sixth seeds, and had only to determine which rank higher.

Houston Rockets

HoustonRocketsSan Diego
Before the start of the 1971–72 season, Hannum left for the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association – later renamed Denver Nuggets, who joined the NBA in 1976 – and Tex Winter was hired in his place. However, Winter's clashes with Hayes, due to a system that contrasted with the offensive style to which Hayes was accustomed, made Hayes ask for a trade, leaving for the Baltimore Bullets at the end of the 1971–72 season. It was also around this time that the Rockets would unveil their classic yellow and red logo and accompanying uniforms used until the end of the 1994–95 season.

Kentucky Colonels

ColonelsKentuckyKentucky (basketball, defunct)
In the league semifinals, the Colonels and the Denver Nuggets each won three games apiece before Denver claimed Game 7 133-110 at Denver on April 28, 1976. It was the Kentucky Colonels' final game. The ABA had entered the 1975–1976 preseason with ten teams. After three preseason games, the Baltimore Claws were shut down by the league due to financial problems and unpaid bills. The San Diego Sails and the Utah Stars each folded shortly after the season began, the Sails after 11 games and the Stars after 16. The ABA was reduced to seven teams for the remainder of the season.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

Chris Jackson
Abdul-Rauf was selected with the third pick in the 1990 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. In his first season in the NBA he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Despite the fact that he never dunked in an actual game, he participated in the 1993 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, after Nuggets president and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff sent NBA league officials a tape of Abdul-Rauf showcasing his dunking ability. Abdul-Rauf led the league in free throw percentage in the 1993–94 and 1995–96 seasons. He played with Denver until 1996, and was a key player on that team, winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1993.