Jamal Murray adds his name to the list of Colorado sports icons
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
There have been some great postseason performances in Colorado sports history. In fact, most of the top ones have become the stuff of legend.
John Elway engineering a 98-yard, game-tying drive in the 1986 AFC Championship Game put the quarterback on the map. He went on to win two Super Bowls and stroll into the Hall of Fame.
Terrell Davis was a great running back, but he was a once-in-a-generation player during postseason. In eight playoff games, Davis rushed for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns; the Broncos went 7-1 in those games and won a pair of Lombardi Trophies. It’s a big reason why he’s enshrined in Canton.
In 1996, the Avalanche were a franchise with no winning tradition, trying to make their mark in a new city. Joe Sakic carried them past the threshold, winning the Conn Smythe trophy en route to Colorado’s first Stanley Cup.
Five years later, another Hall of Famer followed suit. While Ray Bourque may have gotten all of the attention, it was Patrick Roy who led the Avs to their second championship. The goaltender’s performance in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals at New Jersey is the stuff of legend.
And nearly five years ago, Von Miller had a postseason for the ages, leading a dominant Broncos defense that carried the team to Super Bowl 50. They won that game, beating the Panthers, on the strength of Miller’s MVP performance, as the linebacker had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in Denver’s 24-10 win.
Jamal Murray is on his way to adding his name to this list. The Nuggets guard is quickly becoming a legend in the Mile High City.
In Denver’s first-round series against Utah, Murray has kept his team alive. In each of the Nuggets three wins, he’s been the best player on the court, seemingly willing his team to victory.
Last night, that trend continued. For the second time in the series, Murray eclipsed the 50-point plateau, lifting his team to a win and forcing a Game 7. His performance put his name aside some all-time greats, the likes of Michael Jordan, Jerry West and Donovan Mitchell in the NBA record books.
Time after time, Murray hit big shot after big shot. But it wasn’t just his scoring that helped the Nuggets. He also set the tone for his team.
Denver has been in need of an alpha for quite some time. Most thought Nikola Jokic would assume that role, as the center is a first-team All-NBA player. But in the series against the Jazz, it’s become clear that Murray is the team’s leader.
Jokic is a unique talent, a player that makes Denver tough to defend because they can run their offense through their center. But he’s not the team’s key to winning; Murray provides that element. He’s the Nuggets leader, in every possible way.
That’s been clear in this series. And the Nuggets need to make that shift in their thinking moving forward. Murray needs to become the centerpiece of the franchise, not the Joker.
If Denver is ever to become a title contender, it’ll be with Murray filling the “star” role. He’s their Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
While Murray isn’t at the level of those all-time greats yet, he’s certainly shown that he has that type of game. He’s proven worthy of building a team around.
What’s that make Jokic moving forward? He’s Scottie Pippen or Pau Gasol, a really good No. 2 on a championship contender.
That’s a winning formula. That’s a nucleus to build around.
The Nuggets have been searching for a star. They found one in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando.