I’m a basketball fan. Having grown up in Denver, I’m more specifically a Nuggets fan. I played basketball at the YMCA as a kid, and our Junior Nuggets team got to play during halftime at a few NBA games. We got to meet the players before the games and got autographs and photos. I still have an autographed ball from one of those trips to the Pepsi Center, shortly after it had opened. The team, at the time, was coached by Nuggets legend Dan Issel. His is the most notable signature on my ball. The top players on our team back then were Nick van Exel and the perpetually-injured Antonio McDyess (they also had a young, pre-Pistons-Finals-MVP and fellow Denver native Chauncey Billups, one of my favorite players of all time, but I didn’t manage to snag his autograph).
Point is, the Nuggets weren’t great. Hell, they weren’t even good. They finished that season 35-47 and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year. They continued their ineptitude for another few years until finally, in the 2003-2004 season, they made the playoffs thanks in part to a rookie named Carmelo Anthony. In my opinion, however, something else changed that year that helped set everything in motion — they rebranded.