The Denver Nuggets' unlikely march to the NBA Western Conference finals for the first time since 2009, during which the squad has overcome 3-1 series deficits to best both the Utah Jazz and the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers, has been a joy to behold thus far, with September 15's clinching 104-89 handling of Kawhi Leonard and company particularly welcome following the Broncos' embarrassing choke job against the Titans the previous night.
Even better, though, has been the sight of so many alleged NBA experts who'd already buried the Nuggets having to publicly admit that they couldn't have been more wrong.
Exhibit A is ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, whose exasperated reaction to the Clippers' downfall, shared on Twitter, is one for the ages.
Of course, Smith is hardly the only pundit to have written off the Nuggets, led by center Nikola Jokic (dubbed "Stretchmark Five" by beguiled commentator Jalen Rose) and sharpshooter Jamal Murray (previously best known to the national audience for the Instagram sex video he mistakenly posted during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic). Pardon the Interruption cohorts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon each gave Denver no shot for a comeback after falling short in three of the first four playoff contests versus the Clippers, and prior to game five, TNT's hugely entertaining Charles Barkley guaranteed an L.A. victory, declaring that "Denver's already packed."
After the Nuggets won that contest, head coach Michael Malone, speaking during a post-game media availability, laughed off Barkley's misbegotten prediction. "We have belief," he said. "I know there's not a lot of belief. I heard one of the commentators the other day say, 'Eight teams are left in the bubble, and seven of them have a chance to win a championship.' We’re the one he did not think had a chance to win a championship. But we do not listen to all that. We believe in ourselves."
When the Nuggets took game six as well, Smith made it clear that for the Clippers, who have been the odds-on favorite to take the title throughout the season, coming up short in the seventh and deciding contest wasn't an option, as seen in the following on-air blast.
But lose the Clippers did, after once again blowing a double-digit lead.
How did Smith react? Watch and enjoy.
Now, of course, the Nuggets face the Los Angeles Lakers, an opponent that could hardly seem more fearsome thanks to the presence of generational superstar LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who's been lighting up Denver for years. The odds of another victory aren't great — but if the Nuggets have proven anything during the playoffs thus far, it's that such things don't matter to them in the slightest.
As for Smith, we'd love nothing more than for him to have to record a few more videos like these.
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