Nick Wright points to environmental advantage Nuggets have amidst series vs. Lakers

David Akerman
4 Min Read
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports analyst Nick Wright believes the NBA needs to look into the perceived advantage the Denver Nuggets have by playing over 5,000 feet above sea level, the highest mark in the entire league.

“It’s too late in this season, but the NBA probably at some point needs to look into this altitude thing,” Wright said. “… It seems a little unfair.”

Over the years, players have talked about how playing at such a high altitude affects them. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who is currently facing off against the Nuggets in this year’s playoffs, spoke about the challenges before last season’s Western Conference Finals.

That series also pitted the Lakers against the Nuggets, who wound up sweeping Los Angeles.

“Yeah, it’s real,” James said of the altitude effects. “You get tired a lot faster.”

One-time champion Kevin Garnett, who played 31 games as a visitor in his Hall of Fame career against the Nuggets, is another legend that has confirmed the effects of the altitude.

“That s— real,” Garnett said. “You know what [the Nuggets] do before games just to f— with your mental? ‘Welcome to Denver. If you start feeling faint. It’s because you are above [sea level] …’

“You’re like in the layup line, did you hear that s—? Yo, hold on. Whoa! Whoa! Did that [PA announcer] just say [5,280 feet]?

“You start having a panic attack.”

While the Nuggets seem to have a pretty big advantage playing at home, it hasn’t always translated to major success. In 47 NBA seasons, the franchise has just one title, which it earned last season by beating the Miami Heat in five games in the 2023 Finals.

The Nuggets are one of the favorites to win it all this season and got their playoff campaign started off on the right foot by defeating James and the Lakers on Saturday night in Game 1 of their series.

Denver fought back to win by a score of 114-103 after being down by eight points at the end of the first quarter. Game 2 of the series is set to take place in Ball Arena on Monday night.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, the Nuggets are 199-74 (72.9 win percentage) in the regular season and playoffs at home. That’s the second-highest mark during that span, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks (74.5 percent).

At the end of the day, the altitude undoubtedly plays some type of factor. However, the NBA possibly doing something about it seems a little far-fetched.

The rest of the league is likely better off continuing to try to find ways to slow down Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets as the organization looks to win its second title in franchise history.

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David is a Miami native and University of Maryland graduate who has experience in writing, editing and video production. He has been following the NBA and NFL for as long as he can remember.