'It was popping': Rockies celebrate Nuggets' first championship

June 13th, 2023

BOSTON -- The 89’s were wild in the Rockies’ clubhouse on Monday night.

Rain delayed their eventual 4-3, 10-inning victory over the Red Sox for 89 minutes with two outs in the top of the 10th inning. And the Nuggets clinched their first NBA championship with a 94 to (yes) 89 victory over the Miami Heat at Ball Arena in Denver.

The Nuggets were established in 1967 as the Denver Rockets in the American Basketball Association, changed their name to the Nuggets in 1974 and eventually merged into the NBA. While sitting through the rain delay, the Rockies celebrated as if they had lived the entire 56-year history of frustrating lulls and near misses.

Denver native and left-handed pitcher has only been alive for 30 of those years. But he wore Jamal Murray’s No. 27 tank on the way to the park, through batting practice and for nearly every moment outside the game itself. And he turned the rest of the team into Nuggets fans.

“We were able to watch the end of the third quarter and all the fourth quarter,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “It was popping, and it was led by Kyle. Guys who don’t even follow basketball, Dinelson Lamet, Jurickson Profar, they were watching. It was awesome, and they were pulling for the Nuggets.

“All the coaches were in the coaches room. As you know, this is a small clubhouse, but there are a lot of TVs and all of them were on the game.”

Black said he left a lengthy congratulatory voice mail for Nuggets coach Michael Malone, much the same way he did for coach Jared Bednar last year when the Colorado Avalanche won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup. Black has championship memories from being the pitching coach for the 2002 World Series-winning Angels.

“Coaches know it's hard to win,” Black said. “So I'm really really excited for the Nuggets. A championship season is special. It really is. A bond is now formed with that group of players, that coaching staff, with the players the organization. It’s in the books, and it's it's such good stuff.

“I know that feeling, it's great and I'm happy for the Nuggets organization. I'm happy for Denver. What’s great is, it’s back-to-back years with hockey and basketball. It’s great for Denver. It's great for Colorado. It's great for our area.”