Long before my first piece with the Denver Stiffs, before the launch of Full Court Press and our podcast channel, and before the Denver Nuggets ended a ten-year playoff drought, recapturing the imagination of their fans--I was sitting inside my car outside of a production studio in West Hollywood. It was my lunch break, and my impressionable ass was downing a kale salad, queuing up my first episode of Locked on Nuggets.
I had just begun writing about the Nuggets and Adam Mares’ name was the first to come up as I looked to fill my new timeline with the appropriate content. Adam is the very best at what he does, and from that day on I had a new lunch break routine.
Shortly after the 2017-18 NBA season ended in disappointment for the Nuggets, I walked into the press lounge of the Pepsi Center. So much had changed. Los Angeles was in my rearview mirror, and I was covering the team myself for Mile High Sports. I still listened to Adam’s podcast, but it didn’t carry quite the same weight now that I was privy to actual conversations with the host.
I remember the lounge being empty that night, save for Adam--which is odd, and probably not accurate. Nevertheless, I took a seat next to the Big Stiff. The ensuing conversation caught me off guard.
It took me several days to realize that somewhere in the moderately awkward conversation between us, Adam had offered me a position on his staff. I didn’t yet know what it meant to be a part of the Stiffs. But I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse.
In the coming season, I learned what many Nuggets fans already knew—there is no community quite like this. Denver Stiffs isn’t just a website, but an online community that serves as the beating heart of an underrepresented fan-base. It is both a staple in local coverage and a digital lighthouse, guiding and uniting fans all around the world wide web.
The perks of this job have extended far beyond the walls of the arena. In addition to the Stiffs group chat, which eventually supplanted my actual social life, I found myself interacting with Nuggets fans in a way that’s hard to come by.
I began to recognize the accounts that serve as regulars in our Twitter mentions, and never grew tired of putting faces to those accounts when at a watch party. I watched, tweeted, and laughed my way through an entire season with fans from all around the world.
We threw a watch party in Australia. We befriended roughly 20% of the Serbian population via the internet. Our tweets were featured in digital newspapers that we could not read. All of this was happening as the Nuggets entered what is perhaps the most exciting era in franchise history. The entire experience has been surreal.
I didn’t know it at the time, but when I accepted that offer, I was agreeing to do more than cover the Denver Nuggets. I was agreeing to protect and foster this sense of community. It is bigger than my aspirations, and it is among the best decisions I have ever made. That is why saying goodbye, even after such a brief tenure, is so difficult.
My one season covering the Nuggets for Denver Stiffs will be my last.
Many of my colleagues here shared a dream that saw Denver Stiffs as the finish line. We dreamt of sustainable wages, resources befitting the asset we’d turned ourselves into, and the biggest watch parties this city has ever seen.
We got close. But even the Stiffs can be confined by the limits of a network blog and this precarious industry. I feel my head butting up against a ceiling now, and there’s more work to be done.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take time to express my overwhelming gratitude. Whatever I’ve accomplished, seen, or enjoyed throughout this last year has come with the aid of a helping hand. Inspiring, kind, hilarious, and caring people comprise the staff I’ve decided to walk away from. I’m thankful to have met every one of them.
Thank you to Adam for inviting me into a community that embraced and supported me every step of the way.
Thank you to Zach Mikash, Ryan Blackburn, Gordon Gross, Mike Olson, Jeremy Poley, Kayla Osby, Ashley Douglas, Evan Fiala, Mark Grimaldi, Reid Howard, and Daniel Lewis for the seamless transition into a culture that you built far before I showed up. I reaped the rewards of your hard work, and that wasn’t lost on me for a second. I consider you all friends, and I’m rooting for you.
And of course, I’d like to thank every follower, reader, listener, retweeter—anyone who has supported my work during this period. I loved this job in a way that was only possible because of you.
I’ll remember this forever.