Denver Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that in conjunction with the season-long celebration of 50 years of Mile High Basketball, the Nuggets will be retiring legendary player Lafayette “Fat” Lever’s #12 jersey on Saturday, December 2, 2017 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.
“With what Fat Lever has meant to this team, this city and our community for the past 30-plus years, it makes perfect sense to honor him by retiring his jersey during this special season,” Kroenke stated. “He is not only one of the best Nuggets in franchise history, but a great ambassador of Denver basketball as well. It is going to be an honor to have his jersey hanging in our arena.”
Lever was a member of the Nuggets from 1984 through 1990. In 474 games spanning six seasons with Denver, he averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.46 steals per game. The Nuggets reached the postseason in all six of Lever’s years while playing under Head Coach Doug Moe and his up-tempo system, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1985.
Lever earned an All-Star spot in both the 1988 and 1990 seasons and was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 1986-87 and the All-Defensive Second Team in 1987-88. He is scattered throughout the Nuggets’ all-time leaderboards, ranking 1st in steals (1,167), 2nd in assists (3,566), 7th in points (8,081), 7th in made field goals (3,304), 7th in minutes played (16,867) and 8th in rebounds (3,621).
The Pine Bluff, Arkansas native also earned the reputation as a prolific triple-double threat during his time in Denver. He registered 46 triple-doubles as a Nugget (including three in the playoffs), far and away the most in franchise history. He is currently one of only seven NBA players since 1983-84 to have registered a triple-double with steals and is the only Nugget in team history to ever do so. Lever led the NBA in triple-doubles (16) in 1986-87, tied for the most in the league (12) in 1987-88 and came in 3rd (10) in 1988-89. Over that three-year span, Lever ranked 2nd in the NBA in total triple-doubles with 38, trailing only Magic Johnson (43) and ahead of Michael Jordan (18).
Lever will become the sixth Nugget player to have his jersey retired and seventh member of the organization overall. He will join Byron Beck’s #40, David Thompson’s #33, Dan Issel’s #44, Alex English’s #2 and Dikembe Mutombo’s #55. Iconic head coach Doug Moe and his 432 career wins with the Nuggets are also memorialized with a banner in Pepsi Center’s rafters.