After arduous 18-month recovery, Nuggets’ Jamal Murray finally gets his reward: “I’m back”
One by one, the rest of team — the core of the Denver Nuggets — rose to fill the seats of a sold-out Garden, and then, when the final buzzer sounded to signal the celebration, the sun set and darkness crept across the roof of the building.
And then came the roar from the fans: A roar that came from a deep and passionate well of love, not from a handful of people sitting in a circle on an upper level of the arena. That roar said two things: One, that this was a team that, despite the hardship it’s been through, was still a force to be reckoned with; and, two: That it had a special story to tell.
This story, you see, is a familiar one: The tale of a team that was, for a time, on the verge of being destroyed, but that found a way to claw back and become a force to be reckoned with.
It’s the story of a team that once had an identity crisis, but now has one of its own. It’s the story of a team that thought everything was ailing, and now, after 18 months, feels something has been solved. It’s the story of a team that came of some time during the rebuild, but now has its own sense of optimism.
“Our team is coming back together,” said head coach George Karl, who sat down with USA TODAY Sports over the phone after the game Sunday night to reflect on his team’s first meeting with the Denver Nuggets. “I don’t just mean that they are winning games — but I mean that their mentality is that, ‘We’ve been through a trial and error period, we’re going through that now.’”
This is the story of this team, of this season, the story of a team that had a rough start, a season that was anything but smooth, and then came a time where the team began to regain some momentum and began to believe everything would be fine once again.
That story, too, takes us back to a time during the grind of rebuilding that