It has been 15 years since the Denver Nuggets won a playoff series on May 7th 1994 against the Soncis to be exact. Images of Dikembe Mutombo holding the ball on the ground after grabbing the rebound is now a image of the past. No longer are Nuggets fan looking at that as the last playoff series won. A new era of Nuggets basketball has officially ushered in.
Over the past fifteen years, the Nuggets have fallen to the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs four times going 2-14, than went into a eight year drought of no playoff appearances. With the drafting of Carmelo Anthony in 2003-2004, he stopped that drought, leading them out of the dungeon and into the playoffs only to end up losing 4-1 to the Kevin Garnett led Minnesota Timberwolves. Their playoff woes continued for the next four years.
That ended last night when the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets 107-86 wining the series 4-1, the second time they won a series 4-1.
By the time the third quarter rolled around the Nuggets fan started chanting "We want Dallas."
During the first quarter the Hornets led 27-24, having a lead as big as 25-16. Just like the past two home games in this series, the score was close at half time and it was in the third when they went on a run to finish the game off. Chris Paul was held down again for the second straight game only scoring 12 points on 5-16 shooting.
Carmelo after the game: "Finally,'' said Nuggets' forward Carmelo Anthony, the only player to have been active throughout Denver's last half-decade of disappointments. "It took me five years to get that gorilla off my back. It's been a long time since the Nuggets got out of the first round,'' Anthony said. "I'm just excited right now. I got a gorilla off my back. I can just focus on Dallas now.''
Billups had this to say: "It feels great, especially with me being a hometown kid and, from afar, following the struggles [the Nuggets have] had the last four or five years in the first round,'' said Billups, who had advanced to the East finals the previous six seasons with the Pistons and averaged 22.6 points against the Hornets.
"It's crazy that monkey is big around everybody's shoulders around here. It's good to get that off even though I haven't lost in the first round in a long time. Being around here all year, everybody's putting [a lot of emphasis] on the first round. I shoot higher than that. That's just the first step.
Billups who was traded from the Pistons to the Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson in a early season "blockbuster" has made his mark on this team bringing his outstanding leadership, and winning attitude with him. He is sort of like another coach. Players listen to him more than they listen to Coach Karl.
George Karl was on the losing end of the 1994 Denver upset against the Sonic. "It's symbolic,'' Karl said. "That was a miserable part of my life, and this is a powerful part of my life...Denver should go out and celebrate.''
Denver hasn't partied in over 15 years, and I bet that downtown Denver that night was one to remember.
Denver opens their second round series against the Mavs at home on Sunday 3:30 PM EST.