May 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone celebrates beating the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the Western Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

You would think that a national NBA writer would have a vested interest in selling fans on why a team like the Denver Nuggets is interesting. Instead, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix went out of his way to talk about how the team isn’t interesting enough to demand the attention of the national media.

The Nuggets have been playing the “Nobody believes in us card” and, fair or not, it’s worked. They’ve advanced to their first NBA Finals in franchise history and have done so not just because they have a great rotation, but arguably the best player in the sport right now, Niokla Jokić.

When the Charles Barkley’s of the world are yelling from the mountaintops about their coverage, perhaps there’s a problem.

And yet, in Mannix’s eyes, they aren’t interesting enough. Mannix made the bold claim during a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. It was Eisen who made the point about the perceived lack of respect that Denver has received from the national media before Mannix pushed back on that claim.

“I don’t think they have a ‘nobody believes in us’ card to play because a lot of people picked Denver to come out of the Western Conference,” Mannix said. “You can’t say nobody respects Nikola Jokić when the media’s voted him the MVP in two of the last three years. The card the Nuggets can play is ‘Nobody talks about us. Nobody spends airtime discussing us. Columnists writing about us.’

“Because frankly, the Nuggets aren’t very interesting. Like, Nikola Jokić is probably the best player in the game right now, but he’s not someone who does a lot of interviews outside the NBA-mandated stuff. You’re not gonna see a lot of profiles on Nikola Jokić. Jamal Murray – great player — not especially interesting. Michael Porter, Jr.— excellent player — not especially interesting. At least not compared to what we have at the bottom of the playoff bracket where you’ve got drama in Los Angeles almost weekly. You’ve got the Suns. Can they succeed in this first year with Kevin Durant? The Warriors, all their dysfunction this year. The Clippers, can they get it together? The Nuggets’ problem is that they’re not respected, they’re just not talked about. People don’t find them as interesting as some of the teams on the bottom half of the bracket.”

So, if Jokic, Murray, and Porter played in a city that was a bigger media market would they be more especially interesting? 

The Action Network’s Matt Moore makes a great point. If the Nuggets played in Boston or Los Angeles they would instantly own the media scene. So, it’s not about the Nuggets, even if there is a lack of access to one of the sport’s best players, who hasn’t done a 1-on-1 interview for quite some time now.

And no, it’s not more important to cover the Celtics or Lakers. Whether it’s interesting to you or not, the story is the story. The Nuggets aren’t your father’s team because this isn’t your father’s NBA. For better or worse, the league has changed.

At the same time, Denver shouldn’t receive different coverage because of their media market. If the Nuggets played at Madison Square Garden, you wouldn’t be able to avoid the coverage they’d receive. And somehow, someway, Jokić, Murray, and Porter would all become interesting.

Mannix does a great job covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, but this misses the mark.

[The Rich Eisen Show]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.