“Bocky!… BOCKY!!!”

My first daughter was a year-and-a-half old, and I was trying (and failing) to introduce her to the joys of basketball. I was hoping to persuade her to fall in love with the Denver Nuggets from the cheap seats at Moby Arena, which in retrospect, may have been a poorly conceived plan. I may also have been trying to get the very first preseason look at a rookie named Grant Hill.

Try as I might, the giant players didn’t look so big from the nosebleeds, and the squeaking shoes and bouncing ball held very little appeal for a kid who had a short attention span and about 30 words at her command. She had discovered a very different agenda. She sat on my lap, craning her neck for a certain mountain lion who was all over the arena. Whenever she would spot Rocky, she would point, try to jump to her feet, and yell, “BOCKY!” at the top of her lungs, and cackle maniacally. It was her basketball version of “Where’s Waldo?”, and it kept her entertained for two and a half hours. It was adorable, mostly. There was one small issue. Several times, her attempted leap ended up with her stomping down directly on my balls. There were a couple of moments she was lucky I didn’t barf all over her.

Oddly, I not only remember most of that evening fondly, but somehow eventually produced another child after an evening of severe ball trauma. When we left the arena that night, my little girl was fast asleep on my shoulder and clutching tightly to her new stuffed “Bocky” doll. I was certain I had given her the makings of a lifelong Nuggets fan, and I was excited. Bruised, but excited.

Instead, she ended up a fan of other sports. She’s a big NFL fan, though her favorite team does not play their home games in her home state. She takes the teasing her family doles out because of it, and gives it back in kind. Her very favorite team (I think) is the Colorado Avalanche. That kid can talk Avs down to the fourth line and knows her blue line from her offsides from her high stick and more. But the NBA and the Nuggets? Not so much. Apparently, she’s still determined to stomp on my balls a bit.

Kidding aside, sports is a one of many ways that I end up connecting with both of my lovely daughters, through arguments and laughter and passionate conversation. Sports ties me to nearly every member of my family. My grandpa and I talked baseball, my sister and I hockey. My dad taught me football, and it’s the prevalent conversation amongst most of the family. Years of soccer even gave me a good tie to the stragglers in my clan. Hilariously, not a one of those family members has much interest in the NBA or your Denver Nuggets. I’m lucky that my lovely wife is such a hoops nerd, and might love the Nuggets even more than I do. She indulges my Nuggets chatter and hypotheses at all hours. That lack of others to talk with about the team is a part of why I count this site as my Denver Nuggets family, I’d suppose.

That also leads me to thinking of a couple of my friends who also write for Denver Stiffs, and who recently had children of their own. They are establishing those bonds of fandom with their young children, and it can be an amazing part of a child’s early memories to have those shared joys with their family. I envy those moments these young parents are spending with their kids, and the lifelong memories they are establishing in those early moments. They may even make a few Nuggets fans out of the deal.

But all may not be lost for me just yet. I still have a crack at establishing that Nuggets/familial bond. See, that 18-month old I’d mentioned at the beginning of this tale has tacked on another couple dozen years, She’s also added in countless life experiences, including a few very big ones. Yesterday she blessed our clan with a new tier on the family tree. Welcome to the world, little boy Dax. You have already made one old man cry a lot from a thousand miles away. I’m greatly looking forward to showing you this game and this team someday. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a shine to them too. Amazingly, the damned mountain lion is still there, and he’s still just as entertaining as he was back then, if not moreso.

Just please be careful of grandpa’s lap, ok? We came to watch the OTHER balls bounce.

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