While the Nuggets' 1994 playoff team was happy and excited to be honored Monday night 20 years after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history, there was still a bit of sadness.
Former forward Brian Williams, who later changed his name to Bison Dele, was presumed killed during a boating trip in 2002. He was remembered fondly Monday by his old teammates.
"So many good memories, except for one of them is a little bit sad," Dikembe Mutombo said Monday night after the halftime ceremony. "Brian Williams, who is no longer with us, was a great teammate, a great family friend. We miss him. I know that his soul and spirit was with us as we celebrated today everything that we've been able to accomplish for this organization."
Williams played for two seasons for the Nuggets (1993-95), changed his name in 1998 and later retired in 1999 when he was 30 years old.
The FBI and other investigators presumed that Dele, his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and skipper Bertrand Saldo were likely killed and then thrown overboard by Dele's brother, Kevin Williams, who later died in 2002 of an insulin overdose.
"It's going to be hard to fully enjoy the evening ... not having Brian to celebrate it with," LaPhonso Ellis said Monday afternoon.
The 1994 team received a loud ovation from the crowd during the halftime ceremony at Pepsi Center.
"It's amazing that you leave the game and 20-some years later you come to the stadium, you still have the same loyal fans who have watched you over those years and still here, who still love you and wish you were playing," Mutombo said. "That was great."