Hey, we all know love hurts. But why do the Avalanche and Nuggets have to do us like this?
Seven playoff losses. Eight days of heartbreak. The championship dreams for our local NHL and NBA teams? Dead. And gone. Gone too quickly to even say a proper goodbye.
Don’t know about you, but I can’t get the anguished words from Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon out of my head. “I’m going into my ninth year and I haven’t won (bleep),” MacKinnon said Thursday night, baring the ache deep in his soul after Colorado was unceremoniously dumped by Vegas from the playoffs.
Let the pain out, brother.
Seven losses. Eight excruciating days. Every Avs and Nuggets jersey in the city now doubles as a crying towel.
There isn’t enough Gorilla Glue in all of Colorado to mend the collateral emotional damage from the worst run of bum sports luck anyone around here has ever seen. I know I haven’t ever witnessed such unrelenting agony. And I’m old enough to remember Joe Montana 55, Broncos 10, way back in January 1990.
That Super Bowl blowout was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But it was only one awful Sunday. The seven consecutive playoff losses by the Avalanche and Nuggets during eight excruciating days and hope-sapping nights this June have made time stand still in a place no Denver sports fan wants to be. Ever. And certainly not ever again.
How unfair is it that just when Ball Arena swung its doors wide open after 15 months of dealing with the blasted pandemic, the joint was transformed into a house of pain for the Avs, Nuggets and fans whose only sin is loving hockey and basketball too much?
“My family didn’t understand why I was yelling in the restaurant, when we were watching the Avs game on Thursday,” said Jenny Kapelke, a dedicated fan of Denver sports, whose loyalty to MacKinnon and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic remains fierce, even after relocating to Snohomish, Wash. “I was talking with a friend from Colorado and we said we were hungover the whole week with a hurt heart.”
We feel your pain, sister.
As the Avalanche blew a 2-0 lead in the third period of Game 5 at home, making a Vegas victory seem like a cruel inevitability, the pain of spectators in the arena was so real and palpable to be nearly unspeakable. When Mark Stone of the Golden Knights beat Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer with the game-winning score a scant 50 seconds into overtime, the crowd in Ball Arena no longer had the emotional bandwidth to do anything except turn together and walk away in respectful silence, as mourners do when exiting single file from the pews at a funeral service.
We waded through the muck of 2020 for this sports misery?
“It could be worse,” eternally optimistic fan Travis Taylor noted, allowing a trace of snark to invade his naturally sunny demeanor. “The Rockies aren’t in last place … yet.”
From Denver to Vegas to Phoenix and back to Colorado, my employer generously allowed me the opportunity to follow the misadventures of the Avs and Nuggets, chronicling every calliope note of an unexpectedly sad traveling circus.
The capper for me? After scoring 32 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and dishing 10 assists on a sprained ankle during a 116-102 loss to Phoenix late Friday, Jokic joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as only the third player in NBA history to record a 30/20/10 stat line in a playoff game. With the Nuggets in an impossible 3-0 hole in this best-of-seven series, however, Joker sat down late Friday night to answer questions from the media, looking as sad as a kid who had dropped his ice cream cone on the sidewalk.
At the very end of the interview, Jokic offered a confession. He volunteered words exchanged privately in Denver’s locker room after the defeat. “I said to the guys, ‘It was my bad, I really needed to be better,’” Jokic admitted.
C’mon now. How could Jokic have possibly been significantly better than 32/20/10? But the MVP was disconsolate, because his best wasn’t good enough.
Let go of the pain, Joker.
After seven playoff losses in eight excruciating days, maybe it’s time to throw a party dedicated to burying shared tears.
“The last thing I want to see is the Phoenix Suns pushing a broom across our court after Game 4,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, vowing to battle with every ounce of his fiber against a sweep when his team takes the floor Sunday.h2 data-curated-ids="" data-relation-type="automatic-primary-tag"">
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With feeling, Malone added: “The one thing I don’t want is for us to go out just quietly into that good night. I hope we show some real fight and resolve and force that series to go back to Phoenix for Game 5.”
So here’s a toast to raising the roof one more time in Ball Arena before they turn out the lights for the summer.
OK, maybe one victory celebration cannot prevent a long summer of difficult reflection for Joe Sakic and Tim Connelly, as they try to find missing pieces of championship puzzles for the Avalanche and Nuggets.
But it’s you — the Denver sports fan who has endured the gut punch of eight excruciating days and still steadfastly refuses to love the Avs and Nuggets any less — who deserves one more chance to share a smile with a big, goofy Joker who has won this city’s heart.
Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/06/12/nuggets-avalanche-playoff-heartbreak-kiszla/1132