In terms of the seeding of their opponents, Denver Nuggets’ march to this year’s NBA title was unlike any other since the league expanded to a model with 16 teams for the playoffs 40 seasons ago.
On their way to winning this championship, the Nuggets were victorious over the eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference quarterfinals, the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, and the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets, who were given the top seed in the Western Conference, became the first club to win the championship in the 16-team format when they did not have to face a game against a team that was given the top seed in any of the regions they competed in. Only six of the last 39 champions in this format could make it through the playoffs without competing against any top-three seeds at any point in the process.
Miami eliminated the East No. 1 seed Milwaukee in Round 1 of this year’s tournament. Miami’s goal was to become the fifth club in this format to win the title after advancing past both of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds. The following teams accomplished these accomplishments: Houston in 1995, Toronto in 2019, and Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.
In this particular version, the Rockets team had what was by far the most difficult path to victory in terms of the seeds they had to overcome on their approach to the championship. That season, Houston was the No. 6 seed out of the West. To win the tournament, they had to defeat the No. 3 seed from Utah in Round 1, the No. 2 seed from Phoenix in Round 2, the No. 1 seed from San Antonio for the West Championship, and the No. 1 seed from Orlando in the East.
That was the Houston team that caused Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who is now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, to make the now-famous proclamation, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion,” after the NBA Finals came to a close.
LEBRON TAKES OVER
LeBron James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, will enter the upcoming season as the oldest National Basketball Association (NBA) player, barring any unexpected comebacks.
This past season, Udonis Haslem was the league’s oldest player; he finished his whole career with the Miami Heat, which spanned 20 years. Haslem turned 43 last week.
Andre Iguodala, who plays for the Golden State Warriors and is 39 years old, has also announced his intention to hang up his sneakers.
That makes James the new owner of the title of the oldest player in the competition. This season, he overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the all-time scoring leader in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and he will turn 39 in December.
When Haslem got into a game for the Heat last week at 42 years and 363 days, he became the oldest player to ever play in an NBA game and the oldest player to ever participate in a playoff game. He was the fifth-oldest player to ever appear in an NBA game.
Robert Parish and Vince Carter continued to play basketball until they were 43. Late in the 2006-2007 season, when he was 44 years old, Kevin Willis participated in five games.
Nat Hickey, a poorly recognized player, holds the record for being the oldest player in the history of the NBA. He played his final game on January 28, 1948, just two days shy of his 46th birthday. In his brief tenure as a player-coach with the Providence Steamrollers, Hickey only appeared in two games, the first of which took place the day before he retired. During his time on the team, he was responsible for two points.
SIXTH, JOKIC THE JOKER
Nikola Jokic, who plays for Denver and is the pride of Serbia, was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals. This is the sixth time that an international player has won this award.
Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) won finals MVP in 1994 and 1995. It was won in 2007 by France’s Tony Parker of San Antonio, Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas, and Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee. In 2021, it was won by Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s usually accepted that the NBA Finals participants will be playing on Christmas Day the following year, even if they didn’t win the championship.
Suppose the Nuggets are selected to play on December 25 of the upcoming season. In that case, it will be the fourth time in the previous five years that Denver has participated in the Christmas quintuple header held by the league. The last time the Heat played on December 25 was in 2020 versus New Orleans. Because of the pandemic, the game had to be played in an empty arena in Miami. If Miami is selected, this will be the second time the Heat have played on Christmas since 2015.
Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Heat has a perfect record of 8-0 in games played on Christmas.
The NBA now has 20 active franchises, and the Denver Nuggets are the newest to win a title.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics have 17 points in the standings. The franchises of Golden State, Chicago, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, New York, Houston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington, Oklahoma City, Portland, Toronto, Sacramento, and Dallas have all won championships throughout their histories. However, not all of these championships were defeated while the teams were based in the cities where they currently compete.
After Denver’s victory, the ten current organizations who have not yet won an NBA title are the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz, the Brooklyn Nets, the Orlando Magic, the Indiana Pacers, the Charlotte Hornets, the Memphis Grizzlies, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
This year’s NBA regular season they concluded with Denver securing the most percentage of available playoff spots, as was to be expected. The Nuggets were awarded a total of $7,129,558, which is approximately 26% of the money that is distributed by the league to playoff teams.
The amount collected by Miami will be $4,837,547. The city of Boston will receive the third-largest share, amounting to $2,217,347 in revenue.