KESSINGER: Nuggets need an identity and unique style in Denver

With the Denver Nuggets entering a new era, it’s time to consider the team’s identity. An updated style would help the Mile High City rally around the Nuggets.

Nuggets Western Conference
Image Credit: Ryan Greene. 5280 Sports Network

The Denver Nuggets have an identity issue. This town has been painted orange frequently, purple occasionally and burgundy and blue a long time ago. How about a Nuggets-themed citizenry? What does that even look like at this point?

The fate of this Denver Nuggets season will come down to the wire and require big wins late for the Nuggets to make the NBA playoffs. Regardless of the finish, it’s clear that the Nuggets are in a new era. The Jokic years—narrated by a lovable Serbian.

Led by the 6’11” Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are young, creative, and fun to watch. If they find a way to play defense, they could be a mid-seeded playoff team in the coming years. The prospects are exciting, but unifying the city of Denver is a challenge for the Nuggets.

Until recently, attendance numbers for the Nuggets were lower than the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are icing a product so putrid that Febreze should be a sponsor, just to give fans a fresh breath. There is now finally more buzz about the Nuggets around town. However, on an off day, you will see more Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos and Avalanche merchandise than Nuggets

The Nuggets don’t have an identity that sets them apart in Denver or the NBA.  It could start with a unique jersey design. When the Broncos switched back to orange, the town followed suit, and now it’s the identity of the city. The Rockies readopting purple has been a hit among fans who don’t seem embarrassed to wear the same color as Dinger.

The Nuggets current color scheme, with the light blue and gold, hasn’t caught on here. The University of North Carolina cornered the basketball market on light blue years ago. When the Nuggets switched to the color after drafting Carmelo Anthony, it felt like a switch purely because Melo looked good in the jerseys. The town hasn’t rallied around the blue and gold.

They do have gold alternate skyline jerseys, which I like a lot, but the Nuggets identity can’t be gold because of the Lakers. The Nuggets will never be the first golden team in the NBA. The primary colors seem to be accounted for with Bulls red and Celtics green. So maybe, color alone can’t be the solution, unless they want to adopt Rockies purple.

The Nuggets have a unique identity. Bring back the rainbow skyline jerseys from the 1980’s. The design, the rainbow striping, and the crisp blues and yellows are iconic to the Nuggets brand. Based on recent exposure, people loved when the Nuggets wore the throwback jerseys on opening night for Dikembe Mutombo’s retirement.

For a team of many nationalities and budding personalities, the scheme would be great. The iconic skyline could again become the forefront of the Nuggets marketing along with the alternative ax logo. A darker blue would become the identity color of the Nuggets crowds.

Of course, the rainbow doesn’t mean what it did in the 80’s. The pride flag, after all, is a rainbow. Let me say this delicately because I haven’t been cleared to curse in my articles.  We shouldn’t care about people who are worried about the association of the Nuggets to the gay community. In fact, the Nuggets should embrace this if it even happens.

From a financial standpoint, the sales on Nuggets rainbow merchandise would far exceed any backlash from fans. It would also make the Nuggets a more national brand. The way you see famous people wear Bulls and Knicks merchandise, you would see more Nuggets.

If the Nuggets aren’t bold enough to go back to the skyline 80’s jerseys, then it’s time to rally around a classic identity. They could bring back the skyline with the current Nuggets colors. They could even embrace the old Pickaxe jerseys or even the 90’s colors with new designs.

The Nuggets need a striking brand for the city to rally around.

Part of the reason this matters is the weakness of the Nuggets external marketing.  The Nuggets have a hard time reaching the rest of the Denver Metro area outside of diehard fans. It’s been a problem for years with all of Kroenke Sport’s properties. It hurts the Nuggets, Avs and even the Rapids. I don’t see that changing

So give the current Nuggets diehards a uniform concept that they can rally around. If it’s unique to Denver basketball, then the city will catch on. We love our Colorado flag gear after all.

It will lead to more Nuggets pride as we gear up for what we hope will be a wonderful chapter in Nuggets history. The Jokic Years are here in living color.