The jumper stands out. Long from head to toe, Alex English released the shot – always – at its apex. And at 6-foot-7 with long arms, that shot was nearly impossible to block. Armed with a jump shot that was nearly impossible to block and the accuracy of Robin Hood, it became the main tool English needed in becoming one of the deadliest scorers the NBA had ever seen.
Nuggets fans got to see it all up close.
What a sight it was.
In this month’s look back at all things Nuggets celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the franchise, today we focus in on English, arguably the greatest player in its history. English’s game was as smooth as jazz, and he played all the right notes in ending is 15-year career (11 with the Nuggets) as the team’s all-time leading scorer. His points in Denver piled 21,645 high. He was the first, and still the only, Nugget to lead the NBA in scoring, doing so with a 28.4 points per game average in the 1982-83 season.
English averaged 25.9 points in his Nuggets career. He scored more points than every other NBA player in the entire decade of the 1980s. He is 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (25,613). And, many still think, if he hadn’t gotten injured during the 1985 Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, the Nuggets would have won and advanced to the NBA Finals.
It underscored his importance to that team and his Paul Bunyon-esque stature in the organization’s history.
English is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997. He was an eight-time All Star. He was a three-time All-NBA selection. In addition to points, he tops the Nuggets all-time charts in games played, minutes, played, field goals made, field goals attempted and assists. English also ranks third in steals, fourth in rebounds and fifth in blocks, those three categories underscoring an all-around game that he hasn’t always gotten credit for.
The Nuggets retired English’s number on March 2, 1993. He returned during the 2016-17 season to be recognized again by the franchise. It took the league a while to catch up to English’s greatness. Nuggets fans knew it all along.