Nuggets 5280 meaning, explained: How Denver uses court to honor Mile High City’s altitude

5,280 feet high and rising.

When you watch Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets play, you may find your eyes wandering onto that twinkling Ball Arena court. The hardwood panels are a fervent shade of brown, accentuated by the curved elegance of the franchise’s famed logo. There are hints of blue and red and yellow, tints all immortalized on Denver’s iconic insignia.

Then, a number. It’s rigid, far more stoic than the entrancing symbols that surround it. It reads “5,280.”

That’s far too big for a favorite number, surely. Perhaps it represents a few of the franchise’s retired jerseys? Unlikely.

Rather, it is a representation of one of the Mile High City’s greatest traits: its altitude.

Here’s what you need to know about the 5,280 marker that rests just inside the Ball Arena free throw line.

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What does 5280 mean for the Denver Nuggets?

It’s not called Mile High City for no reason. Denver is a tough place for opposition teams to come to, namely because of that additional altitude.

The city stands on treetops, at least compared to other American metropolises. Denver sits one mile (or 5,280 feet) above sea level. Therein lies not just the city’s nickname. But also the curious integer sprawled across the Nuggets’ floor.

The concept was first introduced when Denver altered its court design ahead of the 2015 season. The franchise opted to include a slight marker representing its home city’s altitude and sunniness (Denver averages 300 days of sunshine per year, according to a team press release).

The Nuggets renovated their floor once more in 2018. They replaced the “5,280/300” marker that sat on the sideline with “Mile High Basketball.” But they didn’t stray too far from their roots, placing a darkened “5,280” silhouette inside free throw lines on both sides of the court.

The choice was an ambitious one. It’s paid off in spades thus far; not only does it represent Denver’s all-time most iconic characteristic, it also catches the eye.

So, next time you see Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. or the rest of that Nuggets team step up to the charity stripe, know you’re not just seeing a high-quality basketball team at work. You’re also getting a reflection of the city, thin air and all.


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