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A slow turkey gives thanks for the Denver Nuggets

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Thoughts and thanks for your favorite NBA team

I'm sorry, did you say there would be no gravy today?
I'm sorry, did you say there would be no gravy today?
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Some of us are a little slow to catch on…

  • You write every Thursday for a few years.
  • It takes you four cycles to realize you always write a Thanksgiving article.
  • Thanksgiving has always been on a Thursday. No, really. You can check. At least since the time of George Washington.

After you get done shaking your head at yourself, you realize you have an opportunity to start or keep something of a yearly tradition.

Here are several things I am thankful for, and by gosh, most of them are even Nuggets-related. Here’s hoping that today is wonderful wherever you are, even if it’s not a holiday for you. If you are celebrating and giving thanks, may your belly and heart be full, your belt be unbuckled, and your Nuggets dreams be sweet and filled with wins. Thanks for being a part of Denver Stiffs, you big Stiff.

I’m thankful for Emmanuel Mudiay’s sense of paying it forward. Mudiay grew up in tough conditions in a war-torn country as a young child, and knows how tough it can be to go through trauma at an early age. Emmanuel went out a few nights before Thanksgiving with the Nuggets Tim Gelt to spend some time with the kids at Shiloh House, a place for kids "whose lives have been impacted by abuse, neglect, and trauma." Mudiay puts his time where his heart is.

Speaking of, I’m thankful for Tim Gelt. Tim is a good and heartfelt guy who always takes the time to pay back to the Denver community in a million ways, large and small. Tim still gives of his time and efforts to the communities, programs, and schools that brought him up, and is an inspiration with his giving nature. Tim is always kind enough to treat you as a friend, peer, and professional all at once, even when you admit to him that you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. It’s a rare bird who treats the world that way.

I’m thankful for Danilo Gallinari’s ability to get to the line. Gallo is averaging 5.4 points per game this season from the line, having already added another 76 points to the Nuggets totals from the stripe this season. Gallinari’s ability to draw the foul has been a key component of keeping the Nuggets close in several contests this season, and his ability to add easy points was missed against Utah last night.

I’m thankful for Mike Miller. Miller wears the hats of occasional scoring threat, inbounds passer, shot doctor, veteran presence, near-coach, and possibly the guy who turns out the lights on the Pepsi Center every evening. Here’s hoping the Nuggets are rolling all of those into a single paycheck, or Miller would spend most of his free time at the ATM.

I’m thankful for the rediscovered shot of Jamal Murray. Murray netted all of two free throws in his first four appearances with the team, and is one of a few Nuggets to appear in all 15 games. In his last three games, Murray has put up totals of 18, 24, and 23 points, with six of his last nine games ending in double-digit scoring. Consistent scoring has been a tough spot for these Nuggets, save Gallo’s contributions noted above. Should Murray prove to be a first or second scoring option, he’ll provide a ton of relief to a team who can always use another consistently hot hand.

Someone else who’s had good numbers, both karmically and on the court… I’m thankful for Wilson Chandler, who handed out Thanksgiving dinners to 150 families this week, and has shown a genuine love for the Denver community. Beyond all that, Chandler’s return to the court this season has netted him 17 points per game early in the year, which would be the highest average of his career, if it held out. As a leader, Chandler took a lot of good-natured kidding about his quiet nature in his early career with the Nuggets, but has grown into a calm and steady voice of leadership in post-game interviews and community appearances. Ill Will shines well on the Mile High City.

I’m thankful for coach Michael Malone’s forthrightness, a real rarity in this world. Malone is a thoughtful, bright, and articulate guy who just tells you what is on his mind. He gets away with it as he’s also decent and respectful in doing so, unless the situation calls for a blunter approach. Coach also bleeds over losses as deeply as the most ardent Nuggets fan, and I hope for his success with this team, as I certainly admire him as a person.

I’m thankful for Kenneth Faried’s sense of pride. The Manimal played his butt off from the bench at the team’s request, and was still frank enough to say he missed playing starter’s minutes. Faried has continued to improve his game on both ends of the floor, and made it very difficult for Malone to keep him off the court as the Jurkic experiment sputtered. Speaking of the portmanteau pair…

I’m thankful for Nikola Jokic, giving his all at the power forward in a tough learning curve, and then working his butt off as the backup center without a moment’s ripple in the Nuggets news cycle (yes, such a thing actually exists). One of Jokic’s gifts as a person and teammate is his desire to see everything work, and make everyone happy. Add that to his brains and skills, and you’ll know why Jokic is a very important part of the team’s future.

I’m thankful for Jusuf Nurkic’s sense of competition. Nurk backs down from no one, even when he occasionally loses that fight. More often, he tends to mess with your head while he’s also shoving you around, which often makes him the guy other team’s fans get annoyed with. When he’s a part of the group you’re going to battle with, you recognize the advantage an ever-growing Nurkic brings to you psychologically as well as physically.

I’m thankful for Jameer Nelson, a guy of character and honor, who has equally embraced his role as steward to a young and erratic backcourt, playing solid minutes and steering the babies simultaneously. When Nelson first came to Denver, he had every opportunity to make a bad situation worse, and instead embraced the opportunity to help a team turn itself around. I hope Nelson ends his career in Denver in some fashion, as he’s certainly been a key contributor to the change of atmosphere in the locker room.

I’m thankful for Juancho Hernangomez and his pure joy in playing basketball. Hernangomez has got his foot on the gas for every second he’s on the floor, and is still playing with abandon even in his most intense moments. Most people would kill to enjoy their gig that much, and it’s very cool to watch someone who just loves doing what they do.

I’m thankful for Gary Harris’ perseverance. Harris has not had the start to the season he’d have hoped, with injuries keeping him off the court in much of the early going. Harris brings a lot of positives to the floor for Denver, so I’d also be wildly thankful for his speedy return, both to the floor and health.

I’m thankful for the energy and flash of Will Barton. Barton inspires those around him just as Faried does. It’s difficult to see a guy on your team putting out that much energy and hustle and not step your level up a notch as well. Barton loves to contribute, and vocally proclaimed his hatred of his injury time and how it impacted his ability to help the Nuggets.

I’m thankful for the supportiveness of Malik Beasley. Beasley hasn’t seen a ton of time on the floor, other than some mop-up duties, and several of the Nuggets games have been too close for such a tactic. But Malik not only doesn’t complain about time or growth, he is the team’s most consistent cheerleader from the bench when things are going right out on the floor. Beasley’s talent is also evident, even in his early minutes. Seems another character guy who needs to grow into his capabilities, but an exciting prospect to imagine.

I’m thankful for the heart and character of Darrell Arthur, who was stocking up for thanksgiving at the Denver Rescue Mission this past week, helping them prep for their always-busy time of year helping others in need. Darth has always been a class act with the Nuggets, and will be a welcome floor spacer when better available to the team.

I’m thankful for the return of Alonzo Gee. Gee always put in a ton of effort in his yeoman’s first foray with the Nuggets, and will be a good example for the younger players while he fills in some gaps due to injury and time.

I’m thankful for the Nuggets organization, who gives my favorite Nuggets news site exceptional and generous access.

I’m thankful for my office mate who not only bought our space a killer small-ball hoop (the damned thing literally has a breakaway rim), but also indulged a matching Nuggets decal to offset the one representing his Bulls. The basketball chat is fine in my office, and we have an ever-growing group participating in a shooting contest from the office entry.

I’m thankful for a wife who actually encourages me to write this craziness into all hours of the morning. That lovely girl is a million miles out of this geek’s orbit, but I’ll thank the luck that blessed me, and hope she doesn’t get her eyes fixed.

I’m thankful for amazing, obstinate, and beautiful children, a ridiculous group of friends, and a family that loves (or at least endures) me. I’m thankful for 48 years with my amazing uncle, who would have had a birthday tomorrow, but decided to switch to the nosebleed seats a couple weeks back, the big jerk. But as much as any of that…

I’m exceptionally thankful for the Denver Stiffs community and the larger fans of Nuggets Nation as a whole. The candid-but-mostly-respectful way you all debate the fortunes and futures of the team, and you other myriad topics always manages to make me think about my perspective on things, and often reshapes or expands my views. I’m thankful for such a forum in moments where it seems we could all be a lot kinder in how we address our differences. And thankful that I live in a place where I am allowed to be different and say so.

Thanks to each of you for your readership and contributions to Denver Stiffs. Wipe that pumpkin pie off your screen as you finish this, and go talk to your weird uncle. Maybe even go back and grab seconds, as stuffing only comes once a year, and your uncle may have something brilliant to say. Happy Thanksgiving, Nuggets Nation.