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Forever Stiff

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Some things stay a part of you always

Is it blurry, or am I just crying?

I blame it on my grandma.

When I was a kid, we lived outside of Colorado for almost a decade, so my visits with my favorite grandparent were far less frequent than either of us would have liked. Because of that, we giggled like little kids every time we saw one another.

Conversely, every time I would leave, she would cry.

I always blame my far-too-easily-shed tears on those moments. Every time she would start to cry, I found I couldn’t help myself but to join in. She’s been gone for over a decade now, and dangit, I still cry far too easily. Especially when saying a goodbye.

So, I wasn’t terribly surprised at all of the tears I’ve shed these last couple weeks in composing this, my last article for Denver Stiffs. In several ways, it breaks my heart. Six years ago, I was lucky enough (and nervous as hell) to join my favorite source of Denver Nuggets news, info, and opinions with an entirely different cast of characters at the helm. I’d never written anything professionally, and I knew they were taking a chance on the samples I’d provided. A couple thousand days later, I’m amazed, awed, and inspired by what Stiffs has become.

When joining Nate, Jeff, and Andy all those years back, I was simply thrilled to be able to write up previews and recaps of games and give the bosses a little more room to breathe. When Nate offered me a crack at something a little more extemporaneous that first offseason, I jumped at the chance. I asked him if I could shoot for something weekly all offseason, and he said I could try, if I could simply come up with something worth talking about every week… but that I’d probably run out of ideas quickly. I asked him what days were our slowest (I figured I should start babbling into the dead space), and he told me we were pretty slow on Thursdays. I’ve missed one Thursday in the five years since.

Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to write about everything from Voltron to poetry, from hoops analysis to pop psychology, and have even been so lucky as to get to interview some of my favorite people associated with the team: Michael Malone, Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Scott Hastings, Katy Winge, and many more. Transposing hours of conversation ended up being a crazy/guilty pleasure for me, and it was the piece that sealed the deal in my love affair with the gig.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a job as much as I love this weekly stint. Somehow, I’ve found an audience. From my perspective, it feels like I’ve done so while working out some of my personal issues and finding sometimes-crazy ways to tie them into what’s going on with the Denver Nuggets. Why you’ve all put up with it is beyond me, but I’m deeply grateful. In decades of a professional life, I’ve never had a job I spent as much time thinking about, or got paid less for. It’s not a habit as much as it seems to have become an addiction.

Along the way, I’ve been privileged to work with some of my favorite people in the space. For those who started the Stiffs, and for all of those who have followed, I am thankful beyond my ability to say. To Nate, Jeff, Andy, Colin, Zach, Gordon, Adam, Daniel, Ryan, Brendan, Jeremy, Ashley, Kayla, Evan, Mark, Reid, and many more who supported along the way, I give thanks. I could write a paragraph to each of you, and it would feel paltry. I hope to reach out to each of your personally instead. For your friendship, advice, teasing, support, camaraderie, and fellowship, I can never repay you. You all made this place feel like family, and that is an extraordinarily rare thing in any job, let alone one that can be as solitary and thankless as this can often be. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

But just as importantly, to the readers and supporters of Denver Stiffs, I offer my heartfelt gratitude. Somehow you were kind enough to accept my weird approach to all of this, and to even encourage that behavior. I have found my voice in so many ways because of your constant belief, and I am a very different person for that experience than I was coming in. Because of the support you’ve shown me, I have come to find that this goofy “writing thing” is something I hope to get to do for the rest of my life. Not everyone finds that dream. Thank you for giving me that gift.

But now, something flattering has happened along the way, in that I’ve been propositioned by a new suitor to come and do something “similar-but-different”. You can learn more about all of that in the near future, but an opportunity to expand on the Denver sports I get to cover was just too exciting a possibility to pass up. I hope you’ll join me. Am I excited? Crazy excited. Am I nervous? Nervous as hell. Am I sad? Well…

Only in that this feels like something of a farewell. There was a part of me that oddly hoped I’d still be writing Stiffs columns once a week when I was 90, and that’s the part of me still shedding tears, even as I write this sentence. But deep down, I know it’s not very much of a farewell, as I’ll be back here tomorrow to read the amazing stuff that the Stiffs crew will be putting up. Be sure to keep giving them your love and support, as they continue to crank out compelling and thoughtful content about your Denver Nuggets.

You see, this place gets ahold of you. You come to find that once you’re a Stiff, you’re always a Stiff. Nate, Andy, Jeff, Adam, Brendan, and many others who have gone on to other things from these pages are Stiffs until the day they die. That’s how special this place is, and I’m so grateful to have played any small part or contribution. I am proudly and humbly forever a Stiff. Thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

Go Nuggets. Go Stiffs. Much love, Nuggets Nation. Be seeing you soon.