Last season, your Denver Nuggets had few bright spots to point to on the court, though we've examined many of those over the summer. Off the court, the Nuggets had a very bright spot in Alexis Perry, their Associate Producer/Host of Game Presentation. If you've not watched Perry on Courtside Countdown, you're missing some great in-depth Nuggets content. (twitter: @alexisraeperry)
Quick, witty, and thoughtful, Alexis is back for the 2015-2016 season, and was kind enough to sit down for a quick chat with Denver Stiffs. Fortunately for us, she's as fun and engaging on the other side of a conversation as she is when she's the one asking the questions.
Denver Stiffs: You seem to have stumbled across a fascination for sports media very early on in your life. How old were you when you first found your passion for it, and what drew you to it?
Alexis Perry: As a kid, I would sit next to my dad on Sundays, cheering as cars whipped around various race tracks at 175 mph... Well, I didn't cheer the entire time. Like the average NASCAR fan, my cheering was interrupted by quite a few naps throughout the race. Nothing will make you fall asleep faster than the sound of a roaring car engine, am I right? ;)
When I wasn't fighting incredibly heavy eyes, I would listen intently to the bantering in the booth, waiting for Mike Joy to toss it to one of the reporters in the pits. Nothing fascinated me more than those 12-second tidbits from Matt Yocum as the jackman and tire changers flew over the wall behind him to make a change. There was never any doubt in my mind; I am going to be a pit reporter. While I'm not in the pits, courtside in the NBA is the best alternative I could have ever possibly imagined.
DS: Did you grow up in Colorado? Are you a Colorado sports fan or just a sports fan in general?
AP: I actually grew up in Fresno, California, and it pretty much goes without saying, I was a huge Fresno State Football fan. Go Dogs! I've lived in Colorado for about 10 years, went to CU Boulder (#RollTad) and have become a Colorado sports lover. While it's clear I'm a big Nuggets fan, I also try to make it to as many Avalanche games as I can throughout the season. Hockey is another big passion of mine.
DS: What's the toughest part of the gig?
AP: The toughest part of my job is definitely the "live" aspect of it. It doesn't matter if it's opening night or the final game of the season, the nerves never go away. It's such an adrenaline rush! Once the director counts me in and I'm "live", there's no going back. No starting over. If I mess up, I have to correct myself and move on. I can see everything going on around me, and hear everything happening behind the scenes, so I have to stay ultra-focused to make sure I'm getting the information across. I'm thankful to have such a great crew behind the scenes to ensure the show goes smoothly, and if there are any unforeseen issues, we just roll with it!
DS: What's the best part of the gig?
AP: Ah! This is such a tough question because there are so many different parts of my job. Most people just see me in-game, on-camera as host of "Courtside Countdown," but many people don't know I am also the Producer of the show as well. Therefore, I get to put my own personal touch on all the segments. I love researching which storylines the fans should know about each night, and be able to share those stories with them live. I am also the nuggets.com host, which means I spend a lot of time at practice, shoot-around, and my personal favorite, community appearances. From Children's Hospital to the Denver Zoo, it's always so fun seeing these players interact with the community. You get to see who they really are off the court, and these guys are just amazing.
DS: What's something most fans don't know about you that would surprise them?
AP: If I wasn't pursuing a long-term career in sports journalism, I would be probably be an interior designer. Seriously. If you surprised me at home on a Saturday night, you'd more than likely find me with a nice glass of wine watching HGTV. Maybe one day I can merge my two passions and have a show where I design "man caves" for maximum sports-viewing capability. Thoughts?! ;) (Olson note: Alexis, I love this. Way better than Tony Siragusa's!)
DS: What's the funniest thing that's happened to you as a sports journalist?
AP: I mentioned earlier that the "live" aspect is the toughest part, which has also led to some pretty funny mistakes. My personal favorite was when the Nuggets acquired Jameer Nelson midway through last season. From the nuggets.com report we did on the trade to just chatting with KSE staff in the hall, I probably said "Jameer Nelson" close to 100 times throughout the day. When it came time to report the trade during the pre-game edition of "Courtside Countdown," I called him Jamar and I heard the fans around me instantly erupt trying to correct me. I was a combination of embarrassed and angry; the former because of how many people caught my mistake and the latter because I KNEW HIS NAME!!!
Luckily, it proved to be a great icebreaker when I met JAMEER for the first time. I simply asked him, "So, you ever go by Jamar?" He got a good laugh out of the whole story... I'm glad someone did!
DS: What's the most poignant/emotional/memorable thing that's happened to you as a sports journalist?
AP: I've only been covering the Nuggets for one season, but in that time, I've seen one of the most genuine acts of civility I think I will ever see. Last season, the Nuggets hosted their annual Special Olympics Colorado Clinic for hundreds of athletes up and down the Front Range. While I had heard the interaction between the Nuggets and Special Olympic athletes was pretty heartwarming, I never expected to be completely overwhelmed by my emotions. Cue Jusuf Nurkic. The Special Olympic athletes had some time after the clinic to ask the Nuggets players for their autographs. Instead of looking for t-shirts to sign, Nurkic pulled out his shirt and asked the athletes to sign his instead. It was such a simple gesture, but the way those athletes lit up with excitement when they took the pen and wrote their names was truly unforgettable.
DS: Who's your favorite Nuggets player or coach to interview and why?
AP: This roster is really personable, so interviewing any of them means we're getting some great sound bytes. I love talking to Wilson Chandler, because he's often so quiet, but if you get him talking about something he's really passionate about, like his trip to Senegal to help out with the SEED Project, he won't stop talking. Jusuf Nurkic is great, too. The native-Bosnian is still working to perfect his English, but he can always crack a joke.
DS: What's been most surprising/interesting to you about new Nuggets coach Michael Malone?
AP: I've only sat down with him once since he was first hired, but I learned a lot about his passion for the game in that short amount of time. I was surprised by (but really appreciated) his candor. He was very open about the challenges he's facing in his role as head coach, and the expectations fans have for this team over the next few seasons. He knows this roster and their strengths, so I'm excited to see how his "hate to lose" mentality impacts the Nuggets game. (Olson note: Perry's interview with Malone. Compelling stuff from the first-year Nuggets coach.)
DS: What's been most surprising/interesting to you about Nuggets rookie Emmanuel Mudiay?
AP: From the interaction we've had, I can tell you he's one of the most down-to-earth, humble, and talented guys I've met. As you saw throughout Summer League, his court vision is refreshing, and he has that "hate to lose" mentality Coach Malone is looking for. I think he has the potential to be a strong, vocal leader for this team, which is surprising, given he's just 19 years old.
DS: Being so close to the team, what sort of a season do you expect the Nuggets to have this year?
AP: Like many Nuggets fans, I've read all the reports and speculation on what this season might be like for the Nuggets. Being so close to the team, all I can say is: don't be shocked if they surprise you. I believe the energy and effort we will see on the floor this year will be addicting to watch. The philosophy Coach Malone plans to instill in these players can be game-changing, and the veterans, such as Jameer Nelson and Wilson Chandler, have the opportunity to become true leaders on and off the floor. This roster is made up of real talent, now it's time to expose that talent.
DS: Given your fast start as a journalist, what are your long-term career goals?
AP: At this point in my career, it's truly a blessing to be in the position I am in with the Nuggets. My goal is to learn as much as I possibly can, sharpen my skills as an on-air host, and build lasting relationships with all the talented folks in this business. I'm not looking too far ahead... as Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it." Right now, I just want to enjoy this opportunity I've been given before I set my sights on something new.
DS: What are you doing with any offseason free time, and how many hours a week do you work once the season begins?
AP: This offseason I've really been working to improve my golf game. From driving the green to shanking it right and shattering a window, nothing frustrates me more than my inconsistency on the course. Luckily, my brother is a professional caddy, so I have a great teacher; I just need to be a better student! Once the season is in full swing I work 60 hours a week or more depending on the Nuggets schedule. In other words, come October, I'll be saying goodbye to the driving range for the next seven months.
Many thanks to Alexis Perry for taking the time to chat with Denver Stiffs and Nuggets Nation. Be sure to watch for Alexis' great contributions to all things Nuggets during the season!