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02 May

Denver Nuggets: The Club That Was Formerly Known as “Larks” and “Rockets”

Posted by hy nguyen

Being founded for an original, only to be changed through time, many are the clubs that choose a name change, often resulting to an inevitable change forced by the changing nature of the sport.

Of these clubs, perhaps this is much to the Denver, Colorado club which was founded in 1967 as the Denver Larks—after the bird native to Colorado—for the American Basketball Association (ABA)—then competitor to the National Basketball Association (NBA) until their merger in 1976—only to switch into Denver Rockets and then again to Denver Nuggets when it changed camp.


The club name Denver Rockets may have been still be used for the NBA, given its established reputation in the ABA, but as Houston already possessed the label even before the shift took its place, the club inherently Colorado’s instead chose Nuggets to attribute with the city name.

Nuggets, in this sense, alludes to the state’s historical Gold Rush during the 1850s and the 1860s.

Common to many clubs since time immemorial—even in today’s NBA league—Denver Larks-turned-Rockets had a fair share of successes in the American Basketball Association throughout its independent lifespan until the merger.


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The same was also true after its jump to the NBA where the Nuggets made its way to the NBA playoffs for nine consecutive years starting in the 1980s, only to leave some gap after that and resumed the same streak starting 2004 until 2013.

However, the club’s success in the context does not mean to imply any notable championship appearances—it was not able to.

Like their hockey team counterparts—Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Mammoth—the Denver Nuggets play their home games at the Pepsi Center.

While, to the layman, the Denver team would connote as a franchise owned by a Colorado statesman, the reality is that the original owners of the club are actually from Missouri and was even headed by a South Californian businessman since its inception.

What would had been a Kansas-named and Kansas-based club, the founders chose to move from one state to another and named it after the city to which they moved into. At that time, Kansas was still lacking the needed infrastructure—an arena—for a franchise in professional basketball to stand on it.

Seriously undercapitalized and threatened to be disenfranchised, the original Denver Larks was partially sold to a trucking company owner, Bill Ringsby, for $350,000 who then decided to make a name change for the team after his own successful trucking business—hence, the name Denver Rockets prior to its now name, Denver Nuggets.


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