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The Denver Nuggets have won their first NBA title in franchise history

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Denver Nuggets won this year's NBA championship Monday night. It's the franchise's first title in its 47-year history in the league. Colorado Public Radio's Tony Gorman was at Ball Arena for the celebrations.

TONY GORMAN, BYLINE: It was looking bleak for the Nuggets heading into the fourth quarter. The three-point shooting was cold. Multiple players, including Nikola Jokic, were in foul trouble. They didn't seem to get any calls to go their way. But then Joker, as Jokic is called, hooked one in. Not long after that, Jamal Murray hits a huge three. Confidence was restored. Bench player Bruce Brown scored eight points for the entire game, but he made the shot that ended up being the game winner and grabbed the key rebound to seal the deal.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...2023 NBA champions.

GORMAN: As the confetti fell, Chris Padilla and his son Benjamin watched the team lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The Denver native hoped for nights like this.

How does it feel, man?

CHRIS PADILLA: It feels great, man. It feels good. This feels really good.

GORMAN: Detroit native Mike Dzeizdic has seen championship basketball before with the bad boy Pistons. His home team has taken a backseat to his adopted team in recent years. Dzeizdic got his ticket at the last minute and traveled from Colorado Springs to witness history.

MIKE DZEIZDIC: I think I feel fantastic (laughter). That's fantastic. We'll do it again next year.

GORMAN: After the game, the Nuggets knew they didn't play their best basketball in Game 5, but they reflected on their journey to the top. Jokic went from an unknown second-round draft pick from Serbia to a two-time league MVP to now a champion and finals MVP.

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NIKOLA JOKIC: But to be honest, that doesn't matter. When you're here, you are a player. And they have couple of guys that not even drafted, and they're still playing and contributing to them to win.

GORMAN: Murray and Michael Porter Jr. battled from injuries last season to live for this moment, and for coach Michael Malone, the son of a coach himself who has been unsatisfied throughout the playoffs - well, he still feels that way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL MALONE: The last step is - after a champion is to be a dynasty. So we're not satisfied. We accomplished something this franchise has never done before. But we have a lot of young, talented players in that locker room.

GORMAN: The rest of Denver may not be satisfied with just one title, but for now, they have no problem celebrating this one after a 47-year wait.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Let's go Nuggets.

GORMAN: For NPR News, I'm Tony Gorman in Denver. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Tony Gorman
Tony Gorman comes to Delaware Public Media from WABE in Atlanta.