Celebreate Without Contentment

The Denver Nuggets have made it out of the first round of the playoffs.  I am pleased with the progress and the way they dominated the Hornets, but if this is where it ends I am not going to be satisfied.  This is not the destination.

Chauncey Billups summed it up best in his postgame comments (which I painstakingly transcribed thanks to my DVR and pause button):

“Even though I have not lost in the first round in a long time, being around here all year man, it’s like, you know everybody’s putting all the emphasis on the first round.  I shoot higher than that, you know that’s just the first step.”

Imagine how silly it sounds to a player like Chauncey, who has been to the finals twice, won it all once and played in the conference finals six straight times, that this franchise was obsessed with winning one playoff series.  At this point the Nuggets players are saying all the right things about how they want more and they are still hungry, but up until they prove on the court that those things are true, shouldn’t we be a little worried how they will react to removing the monkey off their back? 

Honestly, I think the players do want more.  I expect them to play great against the Mavs and win the series.  On the other hand I would be lying though if I did not admit that the thought of Denver coming out flat because of their “accomplishments” this season does not worry me a little.

As Chauncey said, everyone in this organization, and even a large portion of the fan base, has put all the emphasis on getting out of the first round.  Just because it has been 15 seasons since Denver has been this far in the postseason does not automatically establish playing in the semifinals as an exceptional achievement. 

You can say whatever you want about me that I am unrealistic or a killjoy, but I take little solace in accomplishing things that any self respecting organization views as commonplace.  If any franchise truly takes itself seriously they do not revel in making it out of the first round because they do not suffer through a drought of 15 years between series victories.  Championship caliber franchises do not mark 50 win seasons as a major feat or feel a sense of triumph in bettering the preseason prognostications made by journalists who do not even watch the team play on a regular basis.

I am not saying Nugget fans should not enjoy the fact that their squad is experiencing the most success in 15 seasons.  Even Lakers fans, Cavs fans and Celtics fans stand up and cheer on their team when they advance.  However, any organization that views this as a monumental time in franchise history is not worth their weight in sawdust.  The rarity of an accomplishment does not in and of itself make reaching it a milestone. 

Yes, the win last night was a step in the right direction and typically winning the NBA championship is a process that takes several years, but anything less than a championship should not be looked at as success.  Until the Nuggets start thinking that way, nights like last night will be the biggest event we ever experience as Nuggets fans.

Celebrate the step Denver has taken, but make sure you want and demand more from this franchise.

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  • dmc0015

    Coming from a Mavs fan, I can see your point, but it all has to start somewhere. Everyteam who advances feels in the hearts that they can make it to the next level, but if you look beyond that, then you open yourself upto a few traps. That 67 win Mavs team completely dismissed the Warriors from the coaches to the players, and it came back to bite them in the worst way. I think the same thing happened when they reached the Finals in 2006. I know as a fan I had no respect for D-Wade and a washed up Shaq, but man were we all wrong in Mavs land.

    The truly great teams not only believe that they can move forward, but they know that they can only do so by focusing not only on one game at a time, but one quarter, or even one possession at a time.

    This is why I think that the Nuggets need to watch out for this Mavs team. I noticed a different Mavs sqaud in the last few weeks of the season, one that seemed to step up their play going into the playoffs. The Mavs are playing their best ball of the year, unlike the Hornets, who seemed to really struggle down the stretch.

    I guess in closing I would say that you should more than likely worry about the Nuggets looking past the Mavs. This Mavs team is a dangerous combination of nightmares from past post season failures and dreams of what could be if they ever got a chance to be playing their most focused and best ball in May and June….Game 1 is May 3rd…

  • OneMoreSucka

    Just the first rung on the ladder. As Nugget fan who had to suffer through all the first round exits, I’m excited that they’re finally putting together a great post season resume, but this is just the beginning. Obviously I do not expect a championship, but I will not be satisfied this post season unless I can rightfully say that the Nuggets played their best and simply got beat by a better team, because at this point, the sky’s the limit.

  • runningdonut

    That was my favorite part of the post game interviews. Although this is much needed for Denver and a great accomplishment by the team, I knew Chauncey would be like that. Dude probably left the arena like it was a preseason game. What did you expect? It’s Chauncey, he’s not losing in the first round. He’ll probably retire before he loses in the first round.

    That’s why we got him. I’m going to enjoy this as much as anyone else right now, but this team can go a lot farther. The only thing I’m worried about is needing to adjust how we have been playing to battle Dallas, who will play us differently and probably look to run a little more. Looking forward to your coverage Jeremy. I’ll probably be the first of many but I’m coming out with it now – Naldo can help us in this series if he can find minutes. FREE NALDOOOO!!

  • CCH

    I don’t think we are looking past the mavs dmc, but you sould know the Nuggets are playing their best ball of the season over the last month as well. Should be a great series.