1932-1948: The roots of the Denver Nuggets date back to amateur teams in Colorado in 1932. The Denver Nuggets led by “Jumping Jack” McCracken who was their player-coach won the Amateur Athletic Union title in 1939 and made it to the AAU Finals again in 1940. Led by McCracken, Robert Gruenig and Vince Boryla, the Nuggets remained one of the best teams in the AAU power throughout their existence.
1948/49: The Denver Nuggets were invited to join the industrial National Basketball League in 1948. The Nuggets were the furthest west team in the professional basketball and had exhausting travel schedule. The team was one of the worst in the NBL, posting a record of 18-44 as they finished last in the Western Division. Hoot Gibson was the team’s top player scoring 14.4 points per game, while Player-Coach Jimmy Darden scored 10.3 ppg. The team’s most famous player would be Morris Udall, who would go on to have a 30 year career in Congress, representing Arizona’s second district and ran for the Democrat nomination for President in 1976.
1949/50: Despite their struggles, the Denver Nuggets were invited to join the National Basketball Association, which was formed when the NBL merged with the BAA. The Westernmost team in the NBA, the Nuggets again would struggle, losing their first 15 games. The Nuggets would also suffer an 11 game losing streak as they clearly were the worst team in the 17 team NBA. The Nuggets would finish with a record of 11-51 and fold following the season. The name Nuggets would hold a special place in Denver’s sports lore that when the Denver Rockets of the ABA were looking for a new name became the natural choice. The ABA’s Denver Rockets made the name change in 1974 in anticipation of a move to the NBA, which would happen in 1976.
©MMXV Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Denver Nuggets or the NBA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 9, 2015. Last updated on July 9, 2015 at 11:40 pm ET.