Your Denver Nuggets are a “small market team” bereft of super stars and doomed to early-exit playoff mediocrity. At least that’s how the rest of the country sees them. But they’re our team. For better or worse, we’re proud of the Nuggets and we will cheer them on to the bitter end, however soon it may come. That’s precisely why we can’t stand hearing players like Wilson Chandler and Andre Miller moaning about playing time and demanding trades. If those guys don’t want to be Nuggets, fine. Good riddance. Don’t let the Pepsi Center door hit you in the ass on your way out.
Plenty of athletes have begrudgingly performed for Denver teams in the past. We’re all to accustom to our town being a way station for future stars of other teams. Carmelo Anthony is the best example of this phenomenon, but there have been plenty more like him over the decades. Rare are players that embrace Colorado, especially where the NBA is concerned.
No other league seeks out the glitz and glamour of the Eastern cities and the major markets the way the Association does. It’s a high style hip-hop universe that these players exist in and All-Star weekend with its limos, VIP parties, platinum artists, red carpets and fabulous fashions is proof positive. Rappers want to be ballers, ballers want to be rappers. Everyone is a celebrity. Denver could not feel further away.
Last night Kenneth Faried was the MVP of the NBA’s “Rising Stars Challenge”, making him the rising-est star of them all. Faried murdered the boards and posted 40 points in leading “team Chuck” to victory over “team Shaq”. America was watching. NBA fans who were not already familiar with the Manimal’s talent, energy and electric smile know now who he is. You can bet dollars to donuts that other NBA General Managers know who he is, too.
He will receive more National exposure tonight when he competes in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Faried was a rare draft gem for the Nuggets. Masai and Josh selected Kenneth with the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA draft out of Morehead State after Portland snubbed him at 21. Faried didn’t dig being overlooked by the Blazers and was grateful to have been appreciated by Denver. He was signed to a three-year deal and then extended after the 2012 season. His current deal is for three years at roughly $4 million. He’s due to earn $2.25 M in 2014 $3.25 in 2015. He will become a restricted free agent after the 2015 season.
Besides being proud as heck of his hustle on the court, Denver fans swell with pride over Faried’s activism off of it. He’s been open about having a lesbian mother and is the only NBA player involved with Athlete Ally, an anti-discrimination organization formed by pro players from various sports that endorses same sex marriage and encourages gays to compete openly in sports. Denver is among the top American cities in terms of homosexual population so Faried is a perfect ambassador for the NBA in the Rocky Mountain West. It’s one more reason that people here love him.
Kenneth Faried is fast becoming an MVP in the heart of Nuggets Country. As talented as Danilo Gallinari is and as affable as fans find Andre Iguodala to be, Faried has surpassed both in terms of popularity. He is easily the most beloved Denver Nuggets draft pick since Anthony. He’s a rising star, indeed.
Manimal has given no indication of being unhappy playing for the Denver Nuggets. In fact, he seems very happy. But Carmelo did, too, for awhile. The burning question is for how much longer? When will Faried begin to pine for a spot on the Knicks or the Lakers or the Miami Heat the way seemingly every other baller does?
When will Kenneth Faried rip out our hearts?
It seems almost inevitable that the day will come that Manimal will become disgruntled. It’s just part of playing for the Nuggets, isn’t it? Fans of the Blue and Yellow are conditioned to believe that their favorite players will eventually demand to be traded. When and if that happens it will be heart-breaking. Whatever deficiencies exist in his game they’re overshadowed by his outrageous fan appeal. Plus he is constantly improving. That has to mean that we are being set up for a fall.