The post-Carmelo Anthony era of the Denver Nuggets began, of course, on the day he was traded to New York. That day would mark a historic sea change in the Nuggets culture, and in its wake the newly assembled team handled what could have been a much rougher transition remarkably well, closing out the season with an 18-7 record that few would have thought possible. Despite continued success (relative to expectations around the league) in the following season, the NBA lockout and injuries deprived Denver of the full training camp, preseason and 82-game regular season they really needed to take the team to the next level.
That, as well as the replacement over the last seven months of Nene, Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington with JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala means that, in effect, the Nuggets have not yet had the opportunity for their roster of young players to fully congeal as a cohesive unit, become sufficiently well versed in George Karl’s system, and establish clear identities individually and as a team. So although it has been a year and a half in the making, the start of the 2012-13 season seems, more than the Melo trade itself, to truly mark the beginning of a new Denver Nuggets era.
As such, the media day launch of the new gold alternate jerseys featuring the reincarnated skyline motif comes at the perfect time. It symbolizes the new beginning currently underway in Denver, and by implication imprints on the franchise a bright yellow punctuation mark signifying that the Carmelo years are now firmly relegated to the history books.
But while the new design closes the book on that most recent chapter, it also harkens back nostalgically to a more distant golden age of the Nuggets. At the presentation of the new jerseys, Josh Kroenke made a point of emphasizing that the design is meant to symbolize heritage, both in terms of Colorado’s mining history and of course the heritage of the Denver Nuggets franchise itself.
Roundball Mining Company readers interested in delving deeper into state history will find HistoryColorado.org to be an excellent starting point (no snark here, I’ve used it myself). But we’re here for basketball, and for our purposes a brief overview of some milestones in the original Nuggets skyline era are in order.
Some NBA fans complain these days that rebranding has become too gratuitous, that half the teams do it every season, and maybe there’s something to their complaints. I would argue that the Nuggets, though, have done a very good job of synchronizing their image overhauls with meaningful changes in the roster and organization. You can’t separate the rainbow skyline from Alex English. You can’t separate the powder blue from Carmelo Anthony.
And it might just be time to retire that powder blue. It would be fitting if this new gold skyline redux alternate were a precursor to a more complete jersey overhaul next season, which would even more completely emblematize this new Denver Nuggets era.
Like many have said before this, my very first thought upon seeing the new alternates was, “Wow. That is really yellow.” But I had been hankering for the Nuggets to bring back the old design for a long time, and they grew on me fast. I’m fully on board; I really do love these new jerseys, both in design and in what they represent symbolically.
Since the jersey roll out was two weeks ago, we’ve all had time to get used to them, and let them grow on us – or not. Now that the dust has settled and the surprise has worn off, how do you really feel about the new gold color and the restoration of the skyline? Please share your thoughts in the comments.