Denver Nuggets A to Z: Alex English

Hall of Fame forward became synonymous with high-scoring teams of the 80s
by Aaron Lopez

When Alex English arrived in Denver in 1980, he became the first player in Nuggets history to wear No. 2.

As it turned out, he also would be the last.

As part of a month-long tribute to some of the most memorable players in franchise history, we are taking a look at the Nuggets from A to Z.

No list would be complete without English. The Hall of Fame forward rewrote the record book and became synonymous with Denver’s classic rainbow skyline uniforms during his 11 seasons in the Mile High City.

On Nov. 7, 1992, the Nuggets honored English by retiring his jersey in a ceremony at McNichols Arena. His number now hangs in the rafters at Pepsi Center.

Fittingly, the No. 2 jersey is joined by the No. 432 that represents Doug Moe’s win total as Denver’s coach from 1980-90. English played a hand in 428 of those victories, missing only six games during Moe's time on the bench.

In itself, English’s durability was remarkable, but his consistency and productivity were even more impressive. He averaged more than 23 points per game for nine straight seasons, including an NBA-best 28.4 points in 1982-83.

The Nuggets got a steal when they acquired English and a first-round draft pick (Carl Nicks) from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for George McGinnis on Feb. 1, 1980.

While McGinnis played just two more seasons, English went on to become the first player in NBA history to score at least 2,000 points in eight consecutive seasons (1981-89). By the time the 1980s ended, English had scored more points than any other player of the decade.

The Nuggets advanced to the playoffs in each of English’s final nine seasons in Denver, including a trip to the 1985 Western Conference finals. English averaged a remarkable 30.2 points on .536 shooting during that postseason run.

He scored 40 points against the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the conference semifinals and matched that total against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the West finals.

English remains atop the Nuggets’ career scoring list (21,645 points), but he was hardly one-dimensional. He averaged more than seven rebounds five times in his career and he remains No. 1 on the Denver’s career assist list (3,679), third in steals (854) and fourth in rebounds (4,686).

And thanks to his retired jersey, he will forever be No. 2 in Nuggets lore.

Game to remember, Nov. 19, 1985

The Houston Rockets had The Dream, but English proved to be a matchup nightmare. In a career filled with high-scoring games, English put up a career-high 54 points as the Nuggets defeated the Rockets 127-113 at McNichols Arena. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for Houston. English more than doubled that by going 21-for-30 from the field and 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.