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Fans have stayed with the Denver Nuggets through the years

Fans have stayed with the Nuggets through the years
Fans have stayed with the Nuggets through the years 03:07

On a basketball court, young players compared dunks, as nearby 76-year-old former University of Denver player Moses Brewer sat and thought about the Denver Nuggets the day after their sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers

"(Denver) Jokic is one of the most," he looked for words, then settled on, "He's phenomenal." 


A fan since arriving in town from Alabama in the inaugural year of the American Basketball Association's Denver Rockets in 1967, Brewer recalls the early years. The Rockets were named after the slogan of the owner Bill Ringsby's trucking company, the Ringsby Rockets. 

"Spencer Haywood. All that group of guys," he remembered. "Lonnie Wright for example. Lonnie Wright played both football for the Broncos as well as for the Denver Rockets." 

There was devotion from the start, but the sport had to get rolling. 

"Basketball wasn't as big then," said Brewer.

Fans have stayed with the team from games in the old Denver Auditorium Arena and Coliseum to McNichols Arena and the Pepsi Center, now called Ball Arena. They have lived through excitement in the early years, disappointment and never a championship. The ABA's last game ever was the Nuggets' loss in 1976. 

"ABA Finals, David Thompson. Dan Issel and that. But they were beaten," said former player and coach Bill Hanzlik. It was the New York Nets with star Dr. Julius Erving that spoiled the Nuggets' plans. 

There were years of frustration and headaches. 

Denver Nuggets v New York Nets, 11-8-75
DENVER, CO NOVEMBER 8: Denver Nuggets center Dan Issel #25 drives to the basket for a layup during an ABA basketball game against the New York Nets at McNichols Arena on November 8, 1975 in Denver, Colorado. ( l-r) Chuck Terry #12, Rich Jones #33, Dan Issel #25, Byron Beck #40, Brian Taylor #14. / Getty Images

"Some struggles in the early 80s financially with ownership, but that begins a change," said Hanzlik. "The Nuggets always had a core group of fans, even when I played in the early 80s," said Hanzlik. 

Others would show up more after the Broncos were done for the year. There were no Colorado Rockies or Avalanche yet to compete for sports dollars. 

"Soon as Broncos season was done it was an automatic 18,000 every single night," Hanzlik remembered.

There were interesting and hopeful years when Dikembe Mutombo ripped down rebounds and Carmello Anthony was drafted and starred. But not until recent years has there been a real chance. 

"When Stan Kroenke bought this team things were getting (better) because he's a basketball guy," said Hanzlik. 

"The excitement for the team. The excitement for this community, the excitement is just remarkable," said Brewer.

As to whether the place he made his home after DU basketball is a great basketball city, Brewer says, "I think it has the potential."

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