Oprah Winfrey has seen my butt. Yes, this will be about sports.
Early on in my singing days, in addition to the a cappella geekiness, I also played the nerd in a 50's music review. The role suited me nicely. Ms. Winfrey had come to Fort Collins back in the day to host an outdoor event in Old Town Fort Collins, and after we did the 50's show, she came back out on stage to be the star/host, while we dove behind scrims to change into "a cappella" clothes. I backed up a little too close to a scrim right as my pants were down around my ankles, and knocked it over with my butt. Which was promptly on display for Oprah and the 10,000 or so folks that had occupied Old Town. And now, when someone asks me "What's something no one knows about you?" my typical response is, "I mooned Oprah Winfrey."
It's a good conversation starter.
In looking over the Nuggets roster today, I wondered... what's something I don't know about each of these guys? In doing some digging, I hope I pull a couple of surprises out here for the Stiffs.
Ty is one of 24 current-or-former NBA players who attended Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Many folks know that lineage, but did you know that at Oak Hill, Ty had a 55-point game, led the team to a 42-1 record as a senior, and still found time to play on the soccer team. Oh, one more Oak Hill tidbit: after his junior year, Lawson was named team MVP over fellow junior Kevin Durant (though I think Ty would trade MVP trophies with KD in a heartbeat, if given the chance).
AAA played his college ball at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, a basketball cathedral. He must have liked the area. Did you know Afflalo was born approximately 2,100 feet away at the UCLA Medical Center? He continued making a splash (pun intended) upon his return to the school, starting every game of his first college campaign as a true freshman. During that season, he led the team in three-point scoring, and was top scorer for important games against USC and Notre Dame.
Gallo's Italian team, Olimpia Milano, was called Armani Jeans Milano during part of his tenure there. They did not wear denim uniforms. And many of you who already call him "Rooster" know this, but "Gallo" in Italian is "Rooster". Everyone knew but me. I assumed it was the haircut. New York's Italian community fell under Gallinari's spell so completely during his stay with the Knicks that the New York Times wrote an article bordering on an obituary (or at least a communities' mournful state) upon the popular Danilo's departure to Denver.
The Manimal comes from tough stuff. His mother, Waudda, has had a kidney transplant, and suffers both from lupus and diabetes and in their younger days educated Kenneth in the art of basketball, playing in pickup games alongside his biological father. Waudda always held her own, and was typically the only female on the court. Watching this example, Kenneth grew up learning the value of effort against larger competition. By the time Faried graduated college, he'd shattered the NCAA career rebounding record by 103 boards. The guy he took the title from? Tim Duncan.
Backing up to the end of that Times-Gallo article, I found it funny that Mozzy's NYC Russian community was proud to sacrifice him for Carmelo Anthony. I'll find it funnier when Gallo, Wilson Chandler, and Mozgov have a national-level article written this season on the Nuggets getting the better of the ‘Melo trade.
Timofey begins his 10th pro season this year, having started his career with a Russian B League team in St. Petersburg at the age of 18. He has a bronze medal from his 2011 Euro Championships stint, and his affinity for pizza and dancing are well-documented amongst favorite Stiff-Gifs in commentary far and wide. He is also the topic of the oddest Deadspin article I've ever read (absolutely inappropriate, read with caution) and the weirdest Esquire photoshoot in history.
NateRob's middle name? Cornelius. College? Washington. Scholarship? Football. It's true, Robinson didn't focus in on basketball until his sophomore year at Washington! Could he play football? He finished out the last six games of that freshman year as the starting cornerback, helping lead his team to the Sun Bowl, and finishing the year with two picks and 34 tackles.
He was also a track star in high school, and loves playing in charity games of all sorts, including Steve Nash's charity soccer event. His athleticism is still good enough that he discussed becoming what I believe would have been the first NBA-to-NFL dual-sport athlete in history during the lockout three years ago.
Foye is a pillar of the Newark, New Jersey community via the Randy Foye Foundation, and has been building that character since a young age, having lost both his parents by the age of six.
Foye was the Big East Player of the Year in 2006, beating out several impressive candidates, including Rudy Gay. That season also carried Villanova to an Elite Eight appearance. Foye also has the rare-but-usually-non-threatening condition situs inversus, in which all his internal organs are on the opposite sides of where they usually would be. The condition is so rare as to only effect 0.01% of the population. Foye's very first basketball was so beat up as to be nearly down to black rubber as he found it, and he credits the game with being only secondary to his family in helping make a better life than his youth began.
Gary is the son of Gary and Joy Harris. Joy was a pretty spectacular ball player in her own right, putting up huge points for Purdue before going on to the WNBA's Detroit Shock. Harris was the Big 10 Freshman of the Year in 2013, the first player to win that honor for Michigan State in 27 years. Tim Connelly loved what he showed in Summer League, and a few folks are mentioning him in the pre-season as a dark horse for Rookie of the Year honors.
Green has the distinction of being one of only two ACC players of the year to have starred for teams with losing ACC records (the other being Len Bias), winning the honor in his senior year. He did that by climbing out of a hole in his freshman campaign of 2.6 points per game and sub-30-percent shooting. He credits that year as making him focus on his game. Erick shares something beyond his new contract with fellow new-guy Gary Harris in that they share their first name with their father.
Chandler has had his tooth knocked out playing ball. By a teammate, David Lee. And you can't figure out why he won't smile. Chandler was also amongst a small-and-unfortunate group of guys who signed binding deals in China during the lockout, keeping him from returning with many others. His hip injury (a labral tear) sends many less athletic folks out there to a total hip replacement.
Chandler's daughter will (again) be spending this season with her happy dad, so don't be surprised if you don't see a few more smiles from Ill Will this year, even if off the court.
Darth is the first cousin of former NBA player Quinton Ross. He was also a brief member of the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), Portland Trailblazers, and Houston Rockets on draft night before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies to start his career.
Arthur also gives back via charity games and events. He was the first player to wear "00" at Kansas since Greg Ostertag.
James Edward Hickson, Jr. holds an NCAA Division I record for field goal percentage by a player in his first career game. To qualify for the record, you need to have 12 career makes. J.J. went 12-for-12 in his first game as a freshman, scoring 31 points against William and Mary. He went on to several other freshman honors that year, his only collegiate season, and was an honorable mention for all-ACC.
Hickson spent his rookie year with LeBron James during his first Cleveland Cavaliers stint, and even spent a portion of a pro season playing in Israel.
Q moved from Chicago's mean streets to North Carolina at the age of 13 to have a better life with his uncle, and started playing basketball, high school ball, that same year. Quincy is one of 13 siblings. His mom is a nurse.
In his senior high school season, Jerrelle recorded a quadruple-double for Fauquier High School in Virginia. In college, after transferring to Towson (from Georgetown), he was a two-time CAA player of the year.
Alonzo has a brother named Lorenzo. I would have liked to have heard their mother call to them both. Gee went undrafted in the '09 draft and spent time with the Austin Toros of the NBDL, eventually winning D-League Rookie of the Year honors.
Gee was born and raised in the South, in Florida, and didn't go far from home for his collegiate ball at Alabama. Alonzo previously played ball with Randy Foye as members of the Washington Wizards.
Aside from the recent-as-last-night report by the Denver Post that McGee is a semi-question mark for being able to start the season, McGee's "did you know?" could be an article of it's own. He has the widest wingspan of any player in the league, goes by "Pierre", and has a reality show with his similarly personality-laden mother.
McGee ironically held a charity softball game this last season on the UCLA campus. Ironic because the event was to help provide clean water in Uganda, and the event was almost washed out by a 20 MILLION gallon water main spill that flooded the campus and the aforementioned Pauley Pavilion.
Nurkic was the MVP of FIBA under-18 and under-20 events in the European Championships. The photo that circulates of his 7 foot tall, 400 pound father doesn't always mention that dad is a policeman. Cops you don't want to get pulled over by. Apparently the man beat up 14 people at once. Just sayin'.
Nurkic has displayed an outsized and genial personality, his twitter posts are becoming favorites amongst the Stiffs faithful. Given that he's been playing for all of 6 years now, he has a lot of ceiling and "Did you knows" yet to reveal.
OK, to coaches. Let's do the lightning round before it gets old, and I already wrote a fair bit about Coach Shaw a few months ago. So...
Shaw's alley-oops to Shaquille O'Neal earned them the nickname "Shaw-Shaq Redemption".
Hunt shares a commonality with Quincy Miller. Both played their college hoops at Baylor.
Was the rare defensive point guard, nicknamed, "The Molester".
Played on both of Mike Dunlap's Metro State championship teams, in 2000 and 2002.
At the age of 18, would ride on his bike with dumbbells in his backpack to train.
Dan follows in his father's footsteps as a pro-level athletic trainer.
Did we learn anything new, Nuggets Nation? I like these guys. Might be fun to watch them play a little ball this season. What say you, Stiffs?