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.
My memories of the Nuggets in the nineties are mostly dull. Except for the year they upset the Sonics in the playoffs, they didn’t do much. They lost a lot of games to teams who had things figured out, and they did all this wearing navy, burgundy and gold. When I see those old uniforms I think of mediocrity. A blend of muddy colors and boring basketball flashes through my head. That’s why I was concerned when I saw leaked logos for the Nuggets earlier this year. The team has been in need of a rebrand for a while, but what I saw looked like a lackluster combination of the old colors slapped on the current pickaxe design. I was disappointed. They could’ve done anything and they decided to replicate the look of the worst decade in team history? Why?
The Rebrand Unveiling
After months of waiting, the team officially unveiled its new branding and jerseys earlier this week. I had been waiting all day, refreshing the team’s Twitter page religiously. Finally, during game three of the NBA Finals (yeah, weird timing), I saw what I’d been waiting for. To my surprise, the colors actually popped. The typeface did too. I saw a skyline that actually looked like our skyline. The colors didn’t replicate those of the worst decade in Nuggets history, but more so our state flag, which Coloradans wave proudly. The pickaxe designs from previous years, one of the best icons the Nuggets have ever had, was simplified and improved. I scanned the Twitter posts and looked up at my wife with an excited twinkle in my eye. I actually liked it!
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 7, 2018
Upon further examination, the best new logo of the bunch is the simplified pickaxe basketball combo. I predict that mark will become ubiquitous for the nuggets. It should be the symbol they use most readily. It’s perfect in its simplicity. Mining + basketball = Denver Nuggets. The other logos are good, and let’s face it, anything is better than the awful, blocky, western-inspired typeface mountain logo the team had been rocking for the past 25+ years. The team has struggled for years to update and change the typeface on its jerseys while holding on to the same ugly logo. Luckily, there’s finally some cohesion thanks to the new designs. Most importantly, the new colors aren’t the muddy ones I remember from my childhood. The new blues are bolder, the yellow brighter and the red richer. Overall, the new logos, colors and typeface are a definite upgrade.
New Nuggets Uniform Upgrade
The new Nuggets uniforms are an upgrade as well. Like I mentioned before, it’s nice to finally have lettering on the jerseys that matches the team’s identity. I’m a big fan of the gold stitching around the red lettering. Also, how can you not love the beautiful simplicity, bright primaries and use of the pickaxe on the Mile High City jerseys? The mountain design on the shorts is a nice touch, and the use of the supplemental logos throughout is a welcome addition. Oh, and for all the haters saying that we’ll look like the Cavs, remember that the Nuggets wore navy, red and gold uniforms a decade before the Cavaliers ever did.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 7, 2018
With my worries about the rebrand quelled, I can’t wait for the season ahead. The Broncos won their first Super Bowl the year they switched from the “D” design to the horse head, and the Nuggets made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons after their last rebrand. I’m hopeful that the 2018-2019 Nuggets will continue the tradition of Denver teams before them and find success after this much-needed rebrand. Hell, even if they end up playing like the nineties Nuggets, at least they’ll look good doing it.