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Just My Take: Denver is not a one-sport town

John Reidy Avatar
July 8, 2016


Just my takeIt was a pretty good week for Denver sports fans.

The brief Dwyane Wade saga, a thrilling, whirlwind couple of days. The excitement was ultimately terminated with him signing in Chicago, but it was great drama.

Did you notice that? I said “Denver sports” fans, not Nuggets fans. Nuggets fans enjoyed the minutiae of the draft a few weeks back; Denver sports fans enjoyed the suspense of the team briefly rising from obscurity and nearly signing a superstar.

There is a massive difference between a sports fan of a certain city or region and a fan of a single team from that area. Some may call them “casual fans,” but a sports fan can talk to you about any team where a Nuggets fan, for example, is a bore at cocktail parties because they can only speak on one topic.

As the chances to land Wade dwindled, basketball people—and the local bloggers especially—got back under their bridges and declared the interest in the Nuggets would go back with them—to the horrid, dark place it was before the team was linked to Wade.

Some went even so far as to say “Denver isn’t a basketball town.”

That’s right. Denver isn’t a basketball town. It’s a sports town.

The common misconception of Denver not being an NBA city is correct. It’s a six-sport city where all of the teams compete for fan attention with a very popular football team. If this were an NBA city, you’d be living in Salt Lake City and brother, no thanks to that.

The notion that Denver has to be a “basketball town” or a “baseball town” is laughable. Of course, the Broncos still rule the roost here in Colorado, but there are plenty of fans of the Nuggets, Avs and Rockies that I interact with daily that elevate Denver above the simplistic notion of it being a one-sport town.

St. Louis is a baseball town. It’s probably because the Cardinals have been around since 1892, they are usually good, the Blues always choke in the playoffs and the Rams are no longer there. It’s fine to call it a baseball town, but how do the Blues fans and former Rams fans feel about this? They probably don’t notice because they are Cardinals fans too because that’s what “sports” fans in any particular city do.

Is Chicago a baseball town or is it a football town? Depends on who you ask. How about Columbus? Is that just a hockey town or does MLS get a piece of that too? It’s dumb to categorize a city with a particular sport unless it only has one sport. And these days, that’s pretty rare.

Denver is not a basketball town. It’s a sports town. And if you can only appreciate one sport, that’s your problem.

The bitter nerds who fervently follow the NBA—and trust me, they rival the hockey nerd in arrogance and faux outrage when their sport isn’t honored exactly right—will piss and moan that basketball isn’t taken seriously in a place like Denver. Pro basketball has been played in Denver since 1967. Do you think if basketball wasn’t a major fixture in the sports landscape of Denver it would have been around this long? Consider that the basketball has been terrible for most of this time and its longevity is astounding.

The Nuggets have been more bad than good during their tenure in Denver, but when the team has been good, the fans showed up. Losing a superstar in Carmelo Anthony and then a superstar coach in George Karl definitely didn’t help matters. It was like when they replaced Chrissy on Three’s Company with Cindy. And then Terri. Believe me; it did not go over well.

There’s a reason the Broncos are unconditionally worshiped in the Rocky Mountain region, and it’s because the team has been a contender for most of its history. Imagine if the Broncos became historically bad for the next 10 years. Fans would bail out in droves. That’s what fans do. Give me a sustained amount of decent play from the Nuggets again and I’ll show you smug “fanalysts” who are upset that the press box is more full than usual. The best part of this is, when a team becomes good, no one remembers the bloggers who were upset you weren’t there when they were bad.

If your supposed niche sport isn’t being represented, take a number and stop whining. It’s not the city’s fault, and it certainly isn’t the fans’. Teams become popular because the casual fan has decided it’s time for them to become interested. Please see the Golden State Warriors and Seattle Seahawks. The Nuggets will draw crowds and consistently draw interest when they are consistently good enough to attract that attention.

Maybe Dwyane Wade would have helped that, but the direction the team is already going is certainly going to push them there. Nuggets fans know this. And when the team is good again, sports fans will know this too.

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