Top of the Mountain

June 13, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

We tipped it up for opening night back in October. Eight months later, the season concludes with a mountain-top celebration for a city that’s been starving for an NBA championship since its days in the ABA. Records were wrecked. History was a nightly rewrite. And the Denver Nuggets are the 2023 NBA champs. There’s nothing I love more than the emotion in championship photos, but this year’s star player is an un-rattling, statuesque robot. Maybe that’s what makes him so great (Underdog coming)…

“The job is done. We can go home now.” — Nikola Jokic

Letter Rip!


Top of the Mountain

Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Nuggets Hold Off Heat in Game 5 (94-89) to Win 1st NBA Title in Franchise’s 47-Year History; Jokic Wins Finals MVP

Denver does it! Monday night’s Game 5 put an exclamation point on the 2022-23 NBA season as Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets claimed the first title in franchise history. Game 5 was tilted toward Miami in the first half, but the Heat struggled to hit shots in the second — just 38 points on 30-percent shooting. Denver grinded through a defensive struggle and held off a gritty Heat team clinging for life. Jimmy Butler scored 13 of his 21 points in the final five minutes, but a costly turnover and a forced 3 in Miami’s last two possessions paved the way for a Denver celebration 47 years in the making.

Tears for Murray. Hugs for head coach Mike Malone. But the big guy? Jokic is just ready to go home.

“The job is done. We can go home now.” — Nikola Jokic

Game 5 Top Performers

N. Jokic (DEN): 28 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists

J. Butler (MIA): 21 points, 5 assists, 3 steals

B. Adebayo (MIA): 20 points, 12 rebounds

J. Murray (DEN): 14 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists

Star Stat: Jokic’s 8th 20-point, 15-rebound game of the playoffs is the most since Tim Duncan (12) in 2003.

Watch: Nuggets Close Out Heat in Game 5 for 1st NBA Championship

Jokic Wins Finals MVPAt 28 years old and fresh off back-to-back regular season MVP awards, Jokic now owns a ring and a Finals MVP. He averaged 30.2 ppg, 14.0 RPG, and 7.2 APG in the Finals, joining an exclusive list of just six other players to average 30-plus in Finals history (Jerry West, Rick Barry, Kevin Durant, Allen Iverson, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Jordan). On top of that, his combined playoff stat line (points+rebounds+assists) was 52.9 per game. That’s the second-highest in a single postseason in NBA history behind only Wilt Chamberlain (59.9 total P+R+A in 1967).

Denver’s Potential DynastyThe Nuggets’ core gives reason to believe this won’t be their last championship run. As tough as the Western Conference has been, the West\’s biggest stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry are aging out of their prime. The Suns likely present the biggest challenge in the West, but we saw what the Nuggets did to Phoenix early in the playoffs. The seven Nuggets players who logged more than five minutes in Game 5 have an average age of 26 years old. Could Denver be a dynasty?

Murray’s Miracle Comeback: The Robin to Jokic’s Batman has often been left behind in star conversations during the early years of his NBA career, but Jamal Murray overcame a brutal knee injury at 24 years old to become a bonafide 1B option on a championship team. Murray was a lottery pick back in 2016 at 19 years old. It’s taken some growing pains, but he’s arrived. He averaged 20-6-4 this season while Jokic posted the gaudy numbers. Murray’s never been an all-star, but that could change soon.

Denver Dominance: Denver’s postseason run was littered with overpowering displays of dominance. After earning the No. 1 seed in the West, the Nuggets went 16-4 in the playoffs by beating the Timberwolves (4-1), Suns (4-2), Lakers (4-0), and Heat (4-1). Only one opponent earned a Game 6, and no one pushed Denver to Game 7. Their .800 win percentage in the postseason is tied for the 11th-best playoff run in NBA history.

That’ll do it for the 2022-23 NBA season. Check back tomorrow for an Underdog feature on the Joker — the Finals MVP who was drafted during a Taco Bell commercial with the 41st pick in 2014.

Respect to the 8-seed Miami Heat for an amazing playoff run. And congratulations to the Denver Nuggets, the 2023 NBA champions!

Read More

SI: The Nuggets Won the Finals the Way No One Thought They Could

B/R: Nobody Can Question Nikola Jokic’s Legacy Ever Again

USA Today: Don’t Tire of the Nuggets Yet. Jokic & Co. Built for More Titles

CBS Sports: Denver Nuggets’ Championship Run By the Numbers



The Late Sho

Photo: Tim Heitman / Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani Hits 2 HRs (20th of Season) to Headline Night of Extra-Inning Thrillers

We’ll get to our latest MLB power rankings in tomorrow’s edition, but Monday’s mayhem bled into Tuesday as four of the eight MLB games needed extra innings. The Halos and Rangers went deep into the morning hours for a Texas-sized rivalry. Shohei Ohtani hit one blast in regulation to help the Angels rally from a 5-1 deficit, but it was his second — a 12th-inning, two-run shot — that finally put the Rangers (and everyone watching) to bed. Ohtani and Mike Trout have the Halos challenging both Lonestar State rivals for AL West supremacy. The Rangers (41-24) and Astros (37-29) have begun to struggle atop the division while the Angels (37-31) have won seven of their last ten. In the last two weeks, Ohtani has quickly surged into the home run race, and he\’s now the AL leader with 20 HRs.

Home Run Race

1. Pete Alonso (NYM): 22 HRs

2. Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 20 HRs

T3. Aaron Judge (NYY): 19 HRs

T3. Jorge Soler (MIA): 19 HRs

T5. Max Muncy (LAD): 18 HRs

T5. Matt Olson (ATL): 18 HRs

Watch: Shohei Ohtani Hits 2 HRs, Angels Top Rangers in 12 Innings (9-6)

MLB Quick-Hitters

J.T. Realmuto 1st Phillies Player to Hit for Cycle Since 2004

League-Worst A’s Beat League-Best Rays for 6th Straight Win


Lost in the Lights


Stanford & Tennessee Punch Last Tickets to College World Series, Texas Loses Heartbreaker on Lost Ball in the Lights

Monday’s final games of the College Baseball Super Regionals showed us how brutal (and euphoric) sports can be. Stanford and Tennessee punched their tickets to the College World Series, but Stanford’s bid came on a “walk-off” RBI where a pop-fly fell to short-center after Texas outfielders lost it in the lights. A stunning way to end a season, but it sets the stage for the CWS final eight. The action begins this weekend. Here’s a look at the eight teams heading to Omaha.

College World Series

  • Bracket 1: #2 Florida, #7 Virginia, TCU, Oral Roberts
  • Bracket 2: #1 Wake Forest, #5 LSU, #8 Stanford, Tennessee

Schedule: College World Series Begins Friday

Read More

Yahoo! Sports: Stanford Advances on Walk-Off After Texas Loses Ball in the Lights

NCAA: How All 8 Men’s College World Series Teams Advanced to Omaha



 Treble Winner Power Rankings

Manchester City became members of an elite club on Saturday night in the Champions League final. They’re the 10th club to win the treble — league, domestic cup, and European Cup. So where do they rank among all 10 clubs in history? (Sporting News)

 Buying or Selling NBA Offseason Rumors

A trio of future Hall-of-Fame guards in James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Chris Paul will play a big role in potential player movement this summer. Plenty of teams are trying to reload, and the rumors are swirling as the NBA\’s offseason officially begins. (Bleacher Report)

 U.S. Open Trends & Predictions

It\’s 2023 U.S. Open week with Los Angeles Country Club welcoming the third major championship of the year. A new Hollywood venue and golf’s biggest stars continue to forge ahead with another major in golf’s ongoing saga. (CBS Sports)





Today\’s Must-Watch List

Stanley Cup Finals

Gm 5: Panthers at Golden Knights (8:00 pm ET)

VGK Leads Series (3-1)


Blue Jays at Orioles (7:05 pm ET)

Yankees at Mets (7:10 pm ET)

Angels at Rangers (8:05 pm ET)

Download The Sportsletter\’s Must-Watch Calendar



Question of the Day

Will the Denver Nuggets repeat as NBA champions in 2024? (click to vote)

Yes | No