Almost exactly four years ago I walked into the offices at EXDO event center with a notebook full of ideas and a strong desire to NOT take over as the site manager of Denver’s longest running and most widely read Denver Nuggets blog.
Things didn’t go according to plan.
I had only been writing about basketball for less than a year when Nate Timmons decided to step down as the site manager of Denver Stiffs in order to pursue a new opportunity. The site’s founder, Andy Feinstein, called the remaining staff members to his office in RiNo for what he was dubbing “stiff-a-palooza.” The meeting was an opportunity to regroup and figure out how we were going to run the site now that there was a void at the top.
There were eight of us in the room that day and only a few of us had actually met each other in person prior to that meeting. Colin Nielson had contributed to the site in previous years and was contemplating getting back into the game. Mike Olson, who had been writing for the Stiffs from his home in California for a little over a year, had flown in to meet the group face to face for the first time. For Zach Mikash, Gordon Gross, and Kayla Osby, stiff-a-palooza was day number one on the job. Feinstein and Jeff Morton were the lone veteran voices of the Stiffs, but neither one had the time or interest to run the blog on a day to day basis. With Denver Nuggets media day a week away, the clock was ticking for us to figure out what we could do to keep the site churning.
I’m still not exactly sure how it happened but after three hours holed up in that room with the rest of the Stiffs, I emerged as the site manager, tasked with maintaining the legacy that Timmons and Feinstein had built while asked to steer the team in a new direction.
Over the next four years, our site and our staff seemed to run parallel to the young Denver Nuggets. Media day was the first official day on the job for Michael Malone and Nikola Jokic. It was also the first day on the job for Gordon, Kayla, and Zach and the first day in the boss’s chair for yours truly. Eventually, after a few years of learning on the fly, both teams started to hit our stride.
At Stiffs, we developed a new voice and found new ways to cover the team that we all loved. We weren’t afraid to admit that we were fans, a taboo in traditional sports writing. We wanted to be honest, and fun, and creative. We wanted to break the molds of traditional sports journalism and carve out an entirely new niche in the Denver market. We saw the internet as a blank canvas, limited only by our creativity and imagination. We were determined to be something new and to do something that had never been done before.
And we didn’t want to just write stories. The strength of Denver Stiffs has always been in cultivating a real community. We coined new phrases and nicknames that became a part of the Nuggets diehard experience. We hosted watch parties and charity events. We even painted the Pepsi Center stands with our own line of original shirts. I am proud to say that Denver Stiffs has become the cultural hub for Denver Nuggets fans around the globe and I am eternally grateful for all of the fans, friends, and followers that I have gotten to meet along the way.
After four great years, I am stepping down from my post as site manager of Denver Stiffs to pursue a new opportunity. I will still be covering the team and I am excited to unveil my next project in a couple of weeks but my time with SB Nation and Denver Stiffs has come to a close.
I am leaving this site in the capable hands of a staff that has been with me since that fateful day back in 2015. A group of writers who were often much more responsible for the site’s success than they were given credit for. Zach Mikash who was my right hand man since 2015. Gordon Gross who has a beautiful mind and a one-of-a-kind writing style. Kayla Osby, one of the few female voices covering the Nuggets. Jeremy Poley who makes many of the coolest graphics that we put out on Instagram and Facebook. And last but certainly not least, Ryan Blackburn, one of the hardest working analysts this beat has ever seen.
Ryan has grown so much over the last four years. When he first arrived on the scene he was as wide-eyed and bushy-tailed as they come. He was hungry. He was obsessed. An underclassmen in college on the east coast, I would often see Ryan turning in drafts at two or three in the morning mountain time! He’d spend hours upon hours mining Basketball Reference or the NBA stats page for patterns and clues about the team’s tendencies. He’d grind out 1000-word game recaps and come up with new ways to formulate a story.
After several years on staff, Ryan’s passion for Denver Stiffs hasn’t waned at all. Stiffs is one of the first things that he thinks about when he wakes up and, if he were ever to sleep, it’d be the last thing he thought about before his head hit the pillow.
As was the case when I took over, I am certain that many aspects of Denver Stiffs will stay the same under his leadership. But I am also excited to see the new directions that Ryan and his staff will take the platform and I have confidence that he will continue to provide coverage that is interesting, insightful, and forged by passion and hard work.
Lastly, if there is one running theme to all of my work at Denver Stiffs and my daily show, the Locked on Nuggets podcast, I hope that it is how much I believe in the power of sports as a tool to bring people together and as a vehicle to experience some of the best things that life has to offer. You see that when you are joined by 17,000 people who are all suddenly compelled to hug the stranger standing next to them after a miraculous shot. You can feel it when you know that you are joined by thousands of faceless, nameless fans who are feeling the same level of cathartic pain when your team falls short of their goal.
That faith has been at the heart of how I’ve covered this team and it is a faith that has been rewarded time and time again since becoming the site manager of this silly little blog. I’ve gotten to know so many Nuggets fans over the years, each of us becoming a small but meaningful part of each other’s lives. And hopefully, we as a staff have succeeded in sharing the Nuggets experience with you in a way that you will remember for the rest of your life.
It was one of the joys of my life to run this site, and I will miss it immensely.
Thank you, Denver Stiffs.