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Past Denver Nuggets Head Coach Suggests Rare Idea

Apr 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets dancers perform in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers during game five of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent interview, former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl suggested the team should honor both Nikola Jokic and Carmelo Anthony with a jersey retirement for the number 15.

Karl was the head coach of the Nuggets from 2005-to-2013, winning the NBA Coach of the Year award during his final season with the team. With Denver, Karl had a 423-257 record. However, the Nuggets only made it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs once during Karl’s run (2008-09).

Anthony spent the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Nuggets. During that span, he was a four-time NBA All-Star and a four-time All-NBA selection. Anthony’s Nuggets career is generally considered a success. However, it is noteworthy he never led the team to the NBA Finals. Regardless, the Syracuse alum is considered one of the greatest Nuggets stars in franchise history.

As for Jokic, his Nuggets career has been a bit more impactful. In nine seasons with the team, Jokic is a two-time NBA MVP and led the team to their first championship in franchise history in 2023.

Past Denver Nuggets Head Coach Suggests Rare Idea

It Has Happened Before

Albeit rare, there have been instances where a team has retired the same jersey number for multiple players. In 2022, the NBA announced a league-wide jersey retirement for Bill Russell‘s number 6. The San Antonio Spurs (Avery Johnson), Orlando Magic (Sixth man), Philadelphia 76ers (Julius Erving), and Phoenix Suns (Walter Davis) have all retired the No. 6 separately.

Furthermore, there have been two separate cases where a franchise has retired the same jersey number for multiple players who played for the team. The New York Knicks have retired the number 15 for Dick McGuire and Earl Monroe. Additionally, the Portland Trail Blazers retired the number 30 for Terry Porter and Bob Gross.

The Last Word on Nikola Jokic and Carmelo Anthony

The Denver Nuggets are in a strange predicament regarding the number 15. Both Anthony and Jokic deserve the honor. Anthony and Jokic will likely both make it to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Recently, both Nuggets greats have talked about Jokic wearing the number after Anthony’s Nuggets run. Anthony believes the Nuggets gave Jokic the number 15 to spite him.

“It was a petty maneuver. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we’ve got numbers to choose from.’ It was like, ‘Here, take this one, you got 15.’ And y’all put Jokić in the middle of that. He don’t know what the f–k going on.

“He could’ve been trying to pay homage, I don’t know. … But what I believe, is that they gave him No. 15 to try to erase what I did.”

Jokic, however, clarified that he wore the number 15 his entire life, “I think I’ve been wearing 15 my whole life.”

Retiring the number for both players may ultimately be the right call.

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