Best Nugget 2012 | Ty Lawson | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

When Carmelo Anthony was traded in 2011, the Denver Nuggets took a lot of pride in playing well without a having a star on the team or definitive leader. They could have used one, however, when Oklahoma City's two stars were eliminating them from the first round of the playoffs. While Danilo Gallinari might be the most talented Nugget, little Ty Lawson has been healthier and his highs have been higher. He recently won Western Conference Player of the Week on the strength of a 3-0 week in which he averaged 20.7 points, 11.7 assists and seven rebounds. He's one of the fastest players in the league, has performed very well in his first year as starting point guard, and could be the perfect leader for a fast-paced team full of athletic wing players.

Readers' Choice: Ty Lawson

Best of Denver 2012: Sports & Recreation

Looking for the Best Nugget, Best 49-Year-Old Pro Athlete, Best New Skatepark, Best TV Sportscaster, Best Dog Park or Best Mascot?

Check out our 2012 Best of Denver Sports & Recreation picks.

The Outlaws missed their chance to play in the Major League Lacrosse championship for the second year in a row, but Schwartzman proved to be the best goaltender in the league. He was the only goalie to post a per-game goals-against average under ten, and he was second in the league in save percentage. Schwartzman played in every game last season and logged the second-most minutes in the league.

Readers' Choice: Jordan Hendry/Dillon Roy (tie)

It's big, it's bold, and it's hard to beat when it comes to throwing down a blanket and relaxing under a tree. Bring your favorite dish from home or stop by a market (Marczyk, 770 East 17th Avenue, or Spinelli's, 4621 East 23rd Avenue, are nearby options) and pick something up. Then scope out a spot in front of the museum or by Ferril Lake, or around the gardens near East High School. On Sunday evenings in the summer, you can join thousands of your closest picnicking friends for the free City Park Jazz, a perfect way to end the weekend.

Readers' Choice: Washington Park

The Washington Park neighborhood offers one of the best assets to urban cyclists looking for a good workout: a 2.27-mile perimeter around its lush, lake-filled recreation area. The two-lane track, bordered by the picturesque 'hood, works for all skill levels of cyclists, from the extreme amateur looking for an afternoon jaunt on a cruiser to the seasoned veteran looking to increase stamina and endurance. For safety's sake, speed is limited to fifteen miles per hour (although it's often ignored), as the park also packs in walking families, runners and rentable pedal-powered cars. And for those biking in, Wash Park is easily accessible from the Platte River path coming from the south or the Cherry Creek path that runs along Speer Boulevard.

Readers' Choice: Washington Park

It's tough to catch a good fish in the big city. But if you're willing to drive out to the 'burbs, it's as easy as spending the day at the Aurora Reservoir. Home to the $10K Trout Tournament, the reservoir provides 820 acres of water. Bad-ass water, that is. Here's how the city of Aurora describes it: "The best water grows the baddest fish! Aurora's reservoirs have some of the best water around and have grown four state record fish: Tiger muskie, catfish, smallmouth bass and white sucker." According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the reservoir is also tops for rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, wipers, largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie. Fishing in the city? Holy crappie!

Readers' Choice: Washington Park

Runners, let's be honest: Running on treadmills is boring, and the scenery never changes. In fact, the only reason we do it is because running up hills makes us feel winded and feeble, while treadmills rarely challenge us with difficult terrain, and they count how many miles we've run, which makes us feel cool. Well, Sloan's Lake Park offers all that and more: The trail around the lake is as flat as a British apartment, and at exactly 2.6 miles from starting point back to starting point, it makes it easy for those of us who predicate our self-worth on how far we can run to chart, you know, how far we're running. Plus, Sloan's Lake is a lovely park, with plenty of shady trees and open spaces and an excellent playground to distract the kids while you sweat out the fear dreams.

Readers' Choice: Washington Park

Best Performance by a General Manager in a Bad Situation

Masai Ujiri

Formerly an international scout, Masai Ujiri, in his first year as a general manager, found out that the best player in franchise history no longer wanted to play for the Nuggets. Rather than panic, Ujiri was patient and swung a good deal for Carmelo Anthony with the New York Knicks — especially considering that everyone knew Anthony wanted to sign in New York as a free agent. Ujiri turned Melo into four contributing players, including a potential star in Danilo Gallinari.

The Nuggets had three nominees for this award, which is two more than any other NBA team. Kenyon Martin went all Kenyon Martin and butted heads with team management before leaving the team early, and J.R. Smith was fined over $1 million — about a third of his salary while there — for missing practices. So Wilson Chandler didn't have the stiffest of competition, but he did have 41 points and 18 rebounds in the final game of the season, ensuring that his Chinese team made the playoffs. He is also the only one of the three who was re-signed by the Nuggets.

They say opposites attract, and who could be more different from the eternally good Tim Tebow that the Wicked Witch of the West? Tebow is out of Denver, and although the musical, Wicked, is coming here, it's also still playing on Broadway in the Big Apple, where the Chosen One will now throw passes for the New York Jets. Broadway star Jackie Burns, who plays the green-skinned Elphaba, is plenty cute and seems like a good fit, especially if she can put a spell on Tebow that makes him throw more accurately.

Readers' Choice: Taylor Swift

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