Nikola Jokic’s reigning NBA-champion Nuggets and LeBron James’s visiting Los Angeles Lakers won’t be the only stars in the house when the Nuggets raise their 2023 championship banner and receive their championship rings at Ball Arena on Oct. 24.
Basketball Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley will be in Denver as part of TNTs “road show,” the network announced Wednesday. TNT’s regular in-studio Inside the NBA broadcast, which also includes Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson, will have live pre-game, halftime and postgame analysis from Ball Arena.
Festivities accompanying the major-network showcase include live music performances by pop artists The Chainsmokers and Dermot Kennedy as part of the fan experience on the Tivoli Quad.
The fan experience, which will also feature a custom mural by Denver artist Thomas “Detour” Evans – who is responsible for another mural adored by Nuggets Nation – as well as fan competitions and a fan watch party, the network announced.
The fan experience opens at 3 p.m. MST. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m.
The Nuggets swept the Lakers out of the postseason en route to the franchise’s first-ever title last year. After Denver secured the Larry O’Brien Trophy, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone made headlines for apparently poking fun at LeBron James, who said after the series loss to Denver that he would mull retirement.
Lakers players and coaches have since said in media appearances that the opener in Denver is a chance for vengeance following the trash talk.
Denver retained much of its core for its title defense in 2023-24, with the most significant loss from last year’s roster being beloved sixth man Bruce Brown. The Nuggets’ four leading scorers – Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. – all return.
The Lakers brought in notable free agents Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood to join its core of James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves that lost to the Nuggets last season.