July 15, 2004: Nuggets acquire All-Star forward Kenyon Martin

Despite injury issues, K-Mart played key role in Denver
by Aaron Lopez

When the Denver Nuggets acquired All-Star power forward Kenyon Martin on July 15, 2004, it was widely applauded as a bold move for a young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Behind rookie forward Carmelo Anthony and playmaking point guard Andre Miller, the Nuggets had reached the playoffs the previous season and were looking to add scoring, defense and toughness to the roster.

Martin fit that description.

Despite breaking his leg in his final game at the University of Cincinnati, Martin was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft, and he subsequently helped lead the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

Martin didn’t disappoint in his first season in Denver, averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds as the Nuggets won 49 games – their highest victory total in 27 years.

Within a few weeks of Denver’s playoff exit in 2005, Martin underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee – a harbinger of things to come over the next 18 months. He needed microfracture surgery on his right knee two games into the 2006-07 season.

After another extensive rehab, Martin returned to play 71 games in 2007-08 and he was a key member of the team that advanced to the Western Conference finals. Martin averaged 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds and served as a defensive stopper during the memorable 16-game run.

Martin became a free agent in 2011 and played in China before returning to the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers. He remains 24th on Denver’s career scoring list with 4,553 points.