Lets face it; The city of Denver gets a ton of crap about it’s rather blase attitude toward anything that isn’t Broncos-related. Specifically from yours truly.

With a successful race into the playoffs the Denver Nuggets can reinvigorate a fan base that has become more cynical as the years have progressed. The team has won 4 in a row and have thrust themselves into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Now, I feel I can speak with some authority on this subject; seeing as how I have been a Colorado resident for all but one year and have lived in Denver for 32 of my 40 years on this planet. There’s certain things recent transplants to this fair state of ours can’t possibly grasp. Denver wasn’t always this Broncos-based. In fact when it was just the Broncos and Nuggets for all but 6 years between 1967-1993 the city supported each team just fine (both playing at that same time of year, even).

Even when the Colorado Rockies came in 1993 it didn’t really affect the Nuggets perception in town. The strength of the Nuggets’ miracle playoff run in 1994 produced the best-ever (in terms of capacity) attendance for a Nuggets team in 1994-95 when the team averaged a sellout for all 41 games. Denver exploded in population in the late 1990’s and that happened to coincide with the worst stretch in Nuggets franchise history and that may have affected perception just as the Broncos were finally victorious in Super Bowls in 1998-99.

When Carmelo Anthony came to the Nuggets in 2003 the Nuggets went on an impressive streak of well-attended games. Yes, talk radio largely moved to a Broncos heavy rotation after the back to back Super Bowls but the Nuggets still got coverage – even as the Colorado Avalanche (arriving in 1995) competed with the Nuggets for the winter sports “leftovers” and managed to win two Stanley Cups (1996, 2001).

Denver isn’t so different from the mid-2000’s when the Nuggets were going to the playoffs every season. Yes, there is nearly unreasonable standard that you have to be on the verge of championship in order for certain segments of media to pay attention. That is media coverage which is something that has evolved and is a completely different subject.

What about the fans?

You can’t blame fans for being cynical after the Nuggets lost their General Manager (Masai Ujiri) and fired their hall of fame head coach (George Karl) after winning 57 games in 2013. The change was startling, dramatic, and alienated a large amount of fans who had bought into the Karl “we don’t need stars” mantra. That was nearly five years ago and the team has steadily built itself into a fun, competitive, entertaining team with a couple players with star potential in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

There is a (small) very die hard and dedicated contingent of Nuggets fans in Denver. They have never gone away but were largely driven away by the Nuggets actions of the summer of 2013. This is the truth. The team has largely struggled to bring these people back to Pepsi Center as the team has slogged transitioned from the George Karl/Carmelo Anthony era. It’s those fans that matter, who affect the bottom line and who felt the most alienated by the Nuggets.

Something has changed, however. Gone are the cell phone gazing, disinterested denizens who have come to Pepsi Center most of the last 4 seasons, they have been replaced by people who actually sit and WATCH the game. Novel concept, right? These people have come out in full force since the Nuggets managed to sneak out a last second victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder in February. People who come and … cheer.

Sometimes it is as simple as winning. The hardcore Nuggets fans needed a reason to come back to the fold. Forget the Broncos-obsessed casual fans and transplants to the city. The hardcore base was looking for the ray of sunshine on the Nuggets nearly five season long cloudy day and it looks like – after the Nuggets defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves to vault themselves into being tied for the 8th position in the west – those fans have a reason to come and plonk down their hard-earned money and cheer on the team again.

This is how you rebuild a fan base. Next stop? Making that fan base larger, one step at a time.