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Fan finds rare piece of Nuggets merch at thrift store

Spoiler alert: the Nuggets never made it to the NBA Finals in 2009. They lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

DENVER — The Nuggets have come close to making the NBA Finals in years past, but this is the first time fans have been able to buy Finals gear -- or so we thought.

About five years ago, Craig Alaniz discovered a 2009 Nuggets NBA Finals t-shirt at a thrift store in northern Colorado. 

"I was just cruising through there. I wasn’t really looking for Nuggets gear particularly, but any time I do I always give it the once over, make sure it fits. But this one even if it didn’t I would have taken it, because that’s a pretty cool thing that these shirts shouldn’t exist, yet this one does," he said. 

"I’ve seen the news stories all the time like they’re supposed to go to other countries so that they’re not in the market, and like if they do find one they burn, so I was kind of even nervous about coming to Ball Arena with it," he said. 

Spoiler alert: the Nuggets never made it to the NBA Finals in 2009. They lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Companies often make merchandise ahead of time so they can sell it instantly if the team wins.

Credit: Jaleesa Irizarry

Alaniz said the shirt was priced at $3.99 but was 50% off that day. 

"I’ve had a few offers for it, but I’m not ready to part with it," Alaniz said. "I had never gotten an offer over 50 bucks for it, so that’s why I was never really interested, because to me, I’m like, the story of the $2 t-shirt is better than $50. That’s why I held onto it."

Fan gear is just one way Denver will see an economic boost with this NBA Finals run.

"Our sports teams really do help Colorado and Denver's brand, specifically," Darrin Duber-Smith, a MSU Denver Marketing lecturer, said. 

Duber-Smith said the Nuggets making it to the Finals creates new fans, which then generates money. 

"The difference between making money and not making money in professional sports, is making sure that you get people who aren't as interested to still buy the jerseys," Duber-Smith said. "A sports team isn't going to make enough money just serving the avid fan. They have to bring in casual fans, and the best way to do that is by winning." 

Credit: Jaleesa Irizarry

Alaniz hopes the vintage tee brings positive vibes to a team looking to make some history. 

"It’s a great team they put together here, and it’s fun to watch them play and how they communicate with each other, it just seems like a good situation all around," Alaniz said. "Really this is the season that matters, so it's nice to see us in the final two out of all the teams that made it." 

Alaniz said he plans to wear the shirt on Thursday for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.



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