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Hundreds of thousands of Nuggets fans gather at parade in downtown Denver: "An amazing feeling"

Nuggets fans continue to celebrate at NBA championship rally at Civic Center Park
Nuggets fans continue to celebrate at NBA championship rally at Civic Center Park 05:47

Thursday saw hundreds of thousands of Nuggets fans -- old and young, lifelong and new -- descend on downtown Denver. 

They walked, rode bikes and scooters, took buses and Ubers to the rally at Civic Center Park and the parade route to celebrate their Denver Nuggets for the team's first-ever NBA championship. That came when they defeated the Miami Heat 94-89 in Denver on Monday in Game 5.

Prior to the parade, many of those fans rallied at Civic Center Park to show their support, some selling Nuggets apparel and giving away posters with photos of Nuggets players' heads. Colorado-based musicians GRiZ and Big Gigantic performed as the smell of barbecue and marijuana wafted through the crowd. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the crowd size was estimated at 700,000 to 1 million.

RELATED: Denver Nuggets NBA championship parade and rally draws fans to downtown

The rally saw everyone from infants to older Coloradans and both lifelong Nuggets fans and self-admitted bandwagon-jumpers, who only became fans in the last few days.

Fans spoke to CBS News Colorado about what brought them out to the rally, the moment the final buzzer rang in Game 5, and what they thought helped the Nuggets achieve victory.

Emotions and reactions varied among Nuggets fans when Game 5 ended, but they were universally united in their elation and excitement at Denver's championship win. Some were shocked, while others shed tears.

Devash, Avin, Manit and Mohit Khanal are all brothers. They were decked out in Nuggets T-shirts and jerseys, holding posters outside the rally. They've been Nuggets fans their whole lives.

"Straight out the womb," Devash said. "It's just an amazing feeling, I can't even describe it, I'm at a loss for words. All my life I've cheered for them so it's just good to see them finally bring it home."

"After they won, I'm not gonna lie, there were some tears in the eyes, I was really happy, screaming, running around the house," said Avin.

Manit was always a casual Nuggets fan, but said he didn't start watching basketball frequently until recently, he said: "I got really into it this past season. I watched every single game." He's since moved from his hometown of Denver to Texas for college but flew back just for the parade. "I can't even explain the feeling just because I was so excited. I almost cried - almost cried, but I held my emotions in. It was a lot to take in. I felt like I woke up in a dream."

Mohit had been a huge fan since he was a little kid: "In elementary school, I had an Allen Iverson jersey so it means a lot. It means a lot, especially for the city, to get this championship."

Left to right, brothers Devash, Avin, Manit and Mohit Khanal celebrate the Denver Nuggets' championship win at the downtown rally on June 15, 2023. CBS

James Harris and Rico Simms are originally from Memphis, Tennessee. Harris has lived in Denver for about seven years, but Simms only recently moved here. They both donned Nuggets T-shirts and hats, but are relatively new supporters of the team.

"I just became a Nuggets fan," Harris said, as they both laughed. He has been watching the team since he moved to Colorado and said they've been a great team ever since, and they finally got the championship win they deserved.

RELATED: NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic glad he stuck around for Nuggets parade in Denver: "I f---ing want to stay on parade"

"I'm a fan of good basketball, so even though my team wasn't in (the championship), I love good basketball," Simms said. "The whole time, I knew the Nuggets were gonna take it. As soon as I saw they were facing Miami, I said, 'they got it.'"

James Harris, left, and Rico Simms attend the Denver Nuggets' championship rally. CBS

Steve Lopez said even after the final buzzer, he wasn't sure the game was over. He needed to see confetti to be convinced.

"As soon as the confetti dropped, I'm not gonna lie, I did shed a tear," he said. "And then I grabbed ... my daughter, raised her above my head and we were jumping around the living room. We were very excited."

Steve Lopez shed a tear when the final buzzer rang in Game 5 and jumped around his house with his daughter. He said the Nuggets’ win was a long time coming.

Posted by CBS Colorado on Thursday, June 15, 2023

"It was intense the whole way, you know? You couldn't have asked for a better game," William Apodaca said. He was flanked by his son Isaac, who sported face paint in the style of the Joker. "Game 5 was like back and forth, back and forth, they had the lead, pretty much the whole way through and then in the fourth quarter, we took it over."

"It was awesome! It was even better finding out - I didn't even know that they never won before," Isaac said.

Denver natives William and his son Isaac came out to the Nuggets parade in Denver to celebrate the team’s championship. Can anyone guess Isaac’s favorite player? He said it took his mom just 10 minutes to do his face paint.

Posted by CBS Colorado on Thursday, June 15, 2023

Fans couldn't agree on what brought the Nugs over the finish line, though. Some named high-profile players like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray while others mentioned coaching. Some said it'd be unfair to single out any individual player or "superstar," saying, ultimately, it was a team effort and that all the players and coaching staff came together better than any other team.

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