Now THAT hurt.

The Denver Nuggets are NBA champions.

And the Utah Jazz still are not.

There had to be at least a little envy and jealousy among the Jazz and their fans when the Nuggets finally broke through this week and left the ranks of Teams That Have Never Won a Championship.

So, the first team to win an NBA championship from the Mountain West is not the Utah Jazz or the Phoenix Suns, who both came close. It’s the Nuggets, who dispatched the Miami Heat 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

Related
Denver Nuggets take home 1st NBA title in rugged 94-89 win over Miami Heat

One down, 10 more to go. That’s the number of teams that still have not won a championship. In other words, one-third of the league.

The Forlorn Ten consist of the Jazz, Nets, Hornets, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Magic and Suns.

At least a championship doesn’t look impossible. If the Nuggets can do it, why not the Suns? Or the Jazz? The Nuggets managed to do it in the Era of LeBron, which gifted us with the anti-competition Super Teams.

It took the Nuggets only 47 seasons in the NBA to win that title.

The Jazz have been flailing away for almost half of a century. Last season they began another rebuilding process, so ….

For decades the Nuggets looked like they’d never get off The List. During those 47 years, they qualified for the playoffs 29 times, and they failed to get past the first round 17 times. This year marked their first appearance in the NBA Finals.

The NBA has never been much for parity, so that doesn’t help. Two teams — the Celtics and Lakers — have appeared in 54 of the 77 NBA Finals, separately or together. They’ve won 34 of them. A mere four teams (counting the Warriors and Bulls) have won 47 of the 77 NBA Finals. That’s what happens when a league does not have an NFL-like hard cap.

With their title, the Nuggets escaped the list of NBA franchises who have spent nearly a half-decade or more in the league and never won a title.

The Suns (55 years) have been in the NBA the longest without a title, followed by the Clippers (53), Jazz (49, including five years in New Orleans), Nets and Pacers (47, both were in the ABA prior to that), Hornets (35), Magic and Timberwolves (34), Grizzlies (28) and Pelicans (21).

Timing is everything. The Jazz reached their peak years at the same time Michael Jordan’s teams did the same. They reached two NBA Finals and lost to Jordan’s Bulls both times.

Those are the close calls that are most often lamented, but Frank Layden, the former team president and coach, has always cited another unrealized championship.

Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone (32) shoots a lay-up as Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon (34) defends during the second half, Friday, May 5, 1995, Houston, Tex. The Rockets eliminated the Jazz in back-to-back playoffs in 1994 and 1995. | Tim Johnson

Referring to the late Mark Eaton, the team’s 7-foot-4 center of that time, Layden said in a 2014 interview with the Deseret News, “If (Eaton) hadn’t hurt his back and had his career cut short. … For two years we lost to Houston and (Hakeem) Olajuwon (in the 1994 and 1995 Western Conference finals). We were better than that team. We could beat them. Mark could handle Olajuwon. We could’ve got one of those championships. Jordan was playing baseball. Then Jordan came back, and if we had had Mark we would’ve won one of those (against the Bulls), too. He was a big force defensively and an outlet passer.”

Layden also noted, “Look, we took the Lakers to seven games (in the 1988 Western Conference semifinals) and that might have been the best team ever, with Jabbar, Magic and Worthy. We gave them all they could handle.”

The Suns have been to three Finals, but lost all of them. They had great teams with Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson but they lost to Jordan’s Bulls and Olajuwon’s Rockets. More bad timing.

The Magic have been to two Finals, one with Shaquille O’Neal and one with Dwight Howard. Both players won rings — with the Lakers.

The Timberwolves had Kevin Garnett for a while. He won his ring with the Celtics.

The Clippers had Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and, during another era, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. But no title.

The Pacers had the Reggie Miller years, but when they finally reached the NBA Finals they ran into the Lakers, who won what would be the first of three straight championships.

The Nets have been to two Finals (2002, 2003) but lost both series. Following the quick-fix LeBron James plan, they collected an all-star team to join their roster more recently — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden — but were a complete flop.

After their Finals win this week, Denver coach Michael Malone was already talking about going for more and possibly a dynasty.

“… So we’re not satisfied,” he told reporters. “We accomplished something this franchise has never done before, but we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and I think we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we’re capable of on the biggest stage in the world.”