1992-93 Denver Nuggets: Team Story & Background

By Todd Schmidt
May. 10, 2020

After two beleaguered seasons under Paul Westhead, the Denver Nuggets turned to franchise icon Dan Issel as head coach for the 1992-93 season.

Among the key contributors here included Chris Jackson (later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), a high-scoring point guard out of LSU and the third over pick in the 1990 draft. Rookie power forward LaPhonso Ellis was the fifth overall pick out of Notre Dame during the summer of '92, and wingman Reggie Williams was Denver's "veteran presence" at age 28, averaging 17 points per game in 1992-93. The Hall of Famer on this team was 7'2" center Dikembe Mutombo, then 26, and there's a good chance you know a lot about him.

After a 7-7 start, the Nuggets embarked on a 14-game losing skid, and it appeared as if Issel may have been over his head as a coach. However, with seemingly nothing to lose, these young studs kept battling. Denver reeled off 10 wins in their next 16 games, improving their record to 17-27 on the season heading into the Seattle Center Coliseum for a match with the 30-win Seattle SuperSonics on Feb. 9, 1993, also happening to be three days prior to yours truly's fifth birthday...

The Nuggets won the game, 96-92, for just their third road win of the season. For those that never saw the '94 upset coming - This game was your shortcoming;). The rookie Ellis and Marcus Liberty each led the team in scoring with 16 points apiece, while Mutombo contributed 15 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks, and Robert Pack paced the Nuggets with six assists off the bench along with six points, going four-of-four from the foul line.

The team was .500-ish the rest of the way, finishing the 1992-93 campaign at 36-46. While Denver still finished three games behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, most importantly they were able to build a foundation for the seasons that followed. Heading into the 1993-94 season, the Nuggets changed their logo and uniform scheme to a more-simple Rocky Mountain theme.

Denver would make the playoffs in 1994 as the #8 seed, upsetting the 63-win Sonics in the first round. Unfortunately, that would be as good as it would get, as this core group never would reach its fullest potential. The Spurs would sweep the Nuggets in three straight in 1995, as Ellis was limited to just six games that season due to injury. In 1996, Abdul-Rauf would be suspended indefinitely due to a national anthem controversy and subsequently traded, and Mutombo would sign with the Atlanta Hawks that same summer, prompting a rebuild even more painful than the previous one.

That being said, the excitement generated by this young group during the early-to-mid-90's will forever be remembered among Mile High sports fans.

Clips courtesy of Retro Basketball Highlights on YouTube:

As for our current state of affairs, it appears that the NBA is going to milk this 2019-20 season to the very end. Now obviously commissioner Silver is not dumb enough to admit it, but the league in general would like nothing more than for one LeBron James to have his precious chance to win his fourth title before he reaches his upper thirties. However, with the Minor League Baseball season almost assuredly to be canceled and with the Major League Baseball season likely to be halved at best and without fans, common logic suggests the risk would not be worth the reward.

More than enough games have been played in this NBA season for it to be constituted as a "completed season". Frankly, it is time to close up shop until next season.

On the House of Highlights channel on YouTube, the Los Angeles Lakers Team Highlights video has generated over 78K views at the time I went to press on this here post. By contrast, the second-highest team in terms of views, the New Orleans Pelicans, has recorded 13K such hits. That's the unfortunate part of our sport today - The politics of it. In fact, it's rather sad. So yeah, you can see why the NBA would have such an incentive to do what's best for LeBron James the individual.

The harsh reality is that when the Lakers win, everyone else loses. That is, of course, assuming that the average NBA fan could ever come to his or her senses.

Anyone who roots for the Lakers in this day and age is a shameless frontrunner. There - I just said it. This is an incompetent franchise that has taken every shortcut in the book in their path back to contention, and they should not be celebrated. The Lakers have effectively been bailed out by LeBron and his manipulative Klutch buddies, simply because it was best for their "business ventures".

In the meantime - NBA fans, go ahead and enjoy fanless playoff games - And in what is sure to be at least three or four months removed from the last completed NBA game.