Funny how a simple email changed so much about my life. Let's go back to 2009, The Hangover and Avatar were in theaters, and Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna were telling us how they Run This Town. Yours truly was a working stiff, in the marketing department at a financial house. Sitting in a cubicle for the bulk of the workday was not something I enjoyed; I needed action.
My first venture into the interwebz basketball world was with the now defunct Basketballboards.net somewhere around 2004. I was the moderator for the Nuggets page, and spent countless hours debating Nuggets basketball and the NBA with other hoops nerds. My girlfriend, at the time, grew infuriated with the hours I spent on my old school desktop. I found that girlfriends and roommates don't share the same passion for watching 82+ NBA games a year, but I loved writing and I loved sports - so compromises were made.
Timofey Mozgov, my buddy Rory who emailed me about Pickaxe and Roll's opening, and me.
I tailored my Metropolitan State journalism degree to be as much about sports as I could. Magazine and newspaper feature writing courses became sports writing practice for me. I took an amazing course at Metro on the history of baseball (I couldn't believe that was a real class!). While at Metro, I interned for Eric Goodman, Chris Tanaka, and Josina Anderson at KDVR's Fox 31. My main job there was cutting all the highlights for the evening's sports segments, and it was a blast. I learned so much, and I learned that I truly loved writing.
After college, when I was just a working stiff, my buddy Rory emailed me in January of 2009 to let me know that the website I would browse from time-to-time, Pickaxe and Roll, was looking for writers. I got in contact with Matt from Blogabull.com, submitted writing samples, and was given a shot to take over for Jeremy Wagner (who left SB Nation to form Roundball Mining Company for ESPN's Truehoop Network). That first half season was a blast, I wrote over 200 articles from January 23rd to the end of that beautiful Western Conference Finals run. As my work became more consistent, the number of readers began to grow... and grow.
One of our early Stiffs Night Out events at Jake's Food and Spirits, some of our contest winners with me, Feinstein, and Morton. I recall they got some killer tickets behind the Nuggets' bench.
We've told our story more than a few times around here, but after that first season I was informed by SB Nation's Tyler Bleszinski that Andrew Feinstein was interested in merging websites. I had enjoyed Andy's work, but he was the nut who started FireGeorgeKarl.com! If I was going to entertain merging with Feinstein, I would need to meet him in person. Little did I know it at the time, but Feinstein would become a phenomenal friend and fantastic writing colleague - one of my biggest supporters and hopefully he feels the same. Whether I agreed or not, Feinstein's columns have been and will continue to be must reads. The man has a way with words, and a way with people. We also may have gotten into a little trouble in Las Vegas at a writing conference, back in the day!
We were bloggers with a vision. Our goal was to become a credential site, so that we could help create news, pen features, and bring the fans closer to the team they loved. But why would the Nuggets ever credential a couple knuckle heads? I still find myself asking that question from time-to-time. Before we could go through the process of obtaining credentials we needed to prove ourselves, and continue to gain credibility. I threw a wrench in our plans when I moved to Wyoming in 2010. While I was there, Feinstein and I agreed we needed more help writing. We turned to one of our most active commenters, jpage78 aka Jeff Morton aka The King of Thornton.
Jeff Morton and I after winning a best sports blog award from Westword for Denver Stiffs.
Morton, Feinstein, and I were a three-headed monster... not too dissimilar from the one the Nuggets front office had in Mark Warkentien, Bret Bearup, and Rex Chapman. How's that for a lofty comparison?!? Never would I have imagined how close the three of us would become. Morton is truly one of the good guys in the "business," and a great friend. I wish I could obtain the paperwork from Verizon on all the texts and calls we've had about the local basketball squad between the two of us, it'd be insane... like the time Joey Graham went for 21 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 of the 2010 playoffs against the Jazz. Morton's ability to recall the most obscure hoops references, and old school love of the Nuggets is what makes him such an asset. The best part about working with Andy and Jeff is their passion for the team, it's a fine line blogging and being a fan, but I always loved that that's what set us apart. We care.
I've been able to work with some awesome people here on Stiffs. Russscot, Mancar, and CombatChuk do the thankless job of moderating the comment section, and are always present at Stiffs Night Out (I just saw Mancar at the gym yesterday, and I'll always think of him as Mancar!). Colin Neilson aka Beefyswats joined our team, and did a lot of heavy lifting for us with his writing. I also consider Colin a friend, and love that he shares his big life events with us, like his fiancé moving here, and showing us the first house they purchased together. Quinn Glassnapp providing us with game coverage from Iowa! Mike Olson, the L.A. man! Olson was the Nuggets good luck charm once upon a time, just ask him! I love Mike's writing, he lets you into his life, and relates it back to the team he loves. Adam Mares, the second Stiff to attend Las Vegas Summer League as a credentialed reporter, and I have a feeling he'll be going back every summer he's able to make it. Mares sees the game in a bit of a different way than I do, but his viewpoints are on point, and I can't get enough of his work.
I was lucky to be a part of Denver Stiffs. This blog has become so much more than just a place to read Nuggets articles; we are a community. The Stiffs Night Outs have been incredible. We broke down the walls between computer and real life! (Funny but true!) The first SNO took place at Choppers. They lost our reservation as the Altitude TV crew was also there having a watch party that night. We got our own little secluded room, and we all witnessed Chauncey Billups' career high of 39 points in a 126-113 drubbing of the hated Lakers back on Feb. 6th of 2010.
In the locker room at Pepsi Center, trying to hear what Ty Lawson was saying.
The connections with SB Nation went well beyond Denver Stiffs, as well. SBN has an amazing NBA league manager in Seth Pollack. He has been a great mentor in many aspects of running a website, and his commitment is so great that he's going to be attending the first Stiffapalooza - a little writing seminar for the Stiffs site. I got to know Pollack better at the Las Vegas Summer Leagues over the past four years. The trips to Vegas were invaluable for writers to get to meet, write, and live and breath hoops for as many days as you could stand in the desert. One of my favorite SBN writers is Nate Parham of Golden State of Mind, it was so fun talking hoops with him and many others in Vegas over the years. Hearing Parham talk about the Warriors title this past season was surreal and something I hope Nuggets fans get to witness at some point.
When I was given credentials for the 2012-13 season, that's when things got real. I believe that I found the perfect job. I've never once driven to Pepsi Center and felt anything other than joy. They say if you love what you do than you'll never have to work another day in your life, and it's true. Writing about hoops is the most fun I've ever had, and that's why I am taking an opportunity to try to further my writing career. I've accepted a role with BSNDenver.com to be their Nuggets editor (you can keep up with me on Twitter here). It truly was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I love everything about our team here at Denver Stiffs and SB Nation.
I'm excited about a new opportunity, and I hope that you all continue to support the Stiffs, and hopefully you can find a little room to continue to support me in my new venture, too. I'll definitely keep supporting the Stiffs, and hope to see many of you at the next SNO!
Thank you Denver Stiffs, I bid you all a fond adieu.