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This Month in the MHS World

Gettin’ Iggy Wid It All-Star shooting guard Andre Iguodala dishes on landing in Denver, Olympic gold, math and pocket squares | As told to Vanessa Hughes Rod Thorn from the Sixers called me and I knew it was something when I saw his name on my phone. I was like, “This isn’t just a ‘You’re doing great’ call.” I knew it was important. He was like, “I know this is kinda crazy timing, with you being in the Olympics, but we decided to move you. You’ll be going to the Nuggets. Dwight Howard will be going to the Lakers and we’ll get (Andrew) Bynum.” We just talked about our past and how we got along and our relationship. We had a great relationship. (He said,) “I’m happy you’re going to Denver. I appreciate everything you did for us and our team; you did a lot more than people recognize or realize. I just want to wish you the best.” We had a really good conversation. It was like 15 minutes. Usually a trade call lasts two minutes. I saw Masai (Ujiri) that morning. He was on the same floor as me. I was like “Hey, what’s up?” After the trade, my agent was like, “We’re going to meet Masai.” I’m like, “That’s so crazy; I just saw him earlier.” I got to the room and he was like, “Man, you don’t even know—I wanted to tell you earlier, but I couldn’t.” He was like five doors down. It was crazy. We all understand, it’s a business. When you’ve been somewhere for so long, you don’t know how to react. Part of me was like, “Yes, I’m glad I got traded”—because of the situation I was in in Philly and for whatever reasons what the perception of me was there, not as a bad person, but just as a player. At the same time, I feel like we’d just gotten over the hump (in Philadelphia), and we were going to move forward; I was really confident. In Philly, I was pretty much like the point guard. I led the team in assists. If they had the hockey assist (in the NBA), I’d have a lot more assists. I initiated the offense to get everything going. That was my role and I was really criticized for it. So when the first thing they want you to do is pass, you start passing first and scoring became secondary. So on this team, I’ve got to get my confidence back. Shoot first, pass second and just be on the attack and be aggressive. The NBA’s kind of like a fraternity; you know all the guys. That’s the first thing I thought: I’m back with Andre Miller in the high-speed offense, so this should be a lot of fun. Those were the best years of my career. People don’t understand how important a point guard is to a lot of players. He’s part of the reason that I was able to get the contract I got (with the Sixers), because I was really effective; he made the game easier for me.

Ty (Lawson) and I have a mutual friend. Two summers ago, we met up and played cards at a friend’s house (in L.A.). I’m talking smack to him, he’s talking smack back and we hit it off pretty well. Ty doesn’t know I’ll always remember him. I said, “I’ll never forget you because of the way you tried to cheat.” He always tries to mess up the game (laughs). He’s a sneaky guy. (At the Olympics), we had to build camaraderie in a short span of time. People don’t realize that. Teams like Argentina have been playing together since they were like 15 years old. They’re like 34–35 years old, so they’ve been together almost 20 years. We were together for six weeks. We had to really come together as a team, sacrifice for one another. That whole process was really what it was about for us and it was great. (An) NBA championship would be the peak. That’s the ultimate goal I think for any player in the NBA if you’re passionate about the game. It’s so hard to win an NBA championship. A lot of great players haven’t had the opportunity— Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley. Guys that have really been on top of their game for a long time never got a chance to even compete for it. Some guys never get to the Finals. For me to get there, that would cap off my career. My son has (my Olympic gold medal). It’s sitting on the dresser in L.A. My jersey is on top of it; everybody signed it. And my medal is underneath it. I’ll probably put it in a safe deposit box. I might get a duplicate and have it around the house. (My son), Andre II, he’s five now. And (my daughter), London, is three. I’ve got a great relationship with both (of my kids). Andre’s playing basketball now. He just had his first practice last week so that’s kind of funny. He’s in L.A. Seems like when I was in the Eastern Conference, whenever we played against Western conference teams, whenever we went on road trips, my numbers always got up higher and higher. I was like, “I would love to play in this conference because the style of play would fit me.” So now that I have the opportunity, I’m just trying to make the most of it. There will be some really good battles. There are a lot of good two-guards in the Western Conference. From Kobe Bryant, of course, to Kevin Durant, you go down the line. Eric Gordon, who’s underrated, is one of the best scorers in our league. Night in, night out, you can look for high-scoring games and you’re November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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This Month in the MHS World going to be competing against some guys who can shoot the ball. OKC’s an up-and-coming group. It will be interesting to see how they grow together or if they grow apart. The San Antonio Spurs put themselves in the mix year in and year out. They probably have one of the greatest coaches of our time, Gregg Popovich. People seem to count out the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have a really good team. I think (other NBA) teams know how good we are. We’re trying to fly under the radar right now. We’ve still got some growing to do together. I’ve got to learn the guys; they have to learn me. That’s a goal of mine—(to be an NBA All-Star again). The first thing you have to take care of is winning. If you (only) make it once, I call it “the fluke.” If I make it there most of the time throughout my prime, I’m 28, maybe until I’m 33-34, and I can sneak in an NBA championship there, I’ll call it quits. My body can play till I’m about 40, but this grind is crazy on you mentally. That’s definitely a goal of mine in the next few years. I don’t love the nickname, but it’s to the point now where I don’t really care. They’ve been calling me “Iggy” since Pop Warner football. It came from my brother because they called him Iggy. He was older than me. He and I were complete opposites, so I didn’t want to be in the same category as him. I’m 28 now and they still call me Iggy, so it doesn’t bother me much anymore. I like Andre or ’Dre. Most people call me ’Dre, but Andre Miller’s on the team too and everybody calls him ’Dre. I don’t want to be called “A.I.” (as in Allen Iverson), either. “Nine,” (my number), is fine. Nine sounds good. Denver is an outdoor city. The sun is always out. Where I live, I just look out my window and people watch. The people are so nice. Everyone smiles. I came from Philly, so it’s a little different. It’s weird. Everybody I walk by says, “Hi.” Everybody’s smiling, (asking) “How’s your day going?” I’m right downtown, all settled in. It took me one day to find my place. It was easy. I’m not a fan of looking around, so you give me three or four options and we’ll go with this one and if I find something better later, we’ll work that down the line in the offseason. I enjoyed math and my math teacher in high school said you should be a math teacher. In college that was going to be my major, but I left after my sophomore year. I just got in contact with the people at (University of) Arizona about going back to school. They have a great business program and lately I’ve been really into finance. I had an internship last summer with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in private banking. It was in New York. I shadowed a venture capitalist one day. I (also) shadowed a hedge fund manager. So that was really intriguing and I really

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enjoyed that experience. I’m just trying to open up as many avenues as possible so when I’m done playing, I can go in whatever direction I feel like. I follow a lot of different tech stocks and consumer product stocks. My business manager and I have a business plan. Athletes need a lot of help in this area as far as managing their money and I have a great relationship with a lot of the young players, so possibly (I’ll be) helping some young guys out in that aspect. My stylist just left (Denver). He just cleaned my closet out. Oh my goodness. It was like a four-day project. It was crazy. The West is a little different than the East Coast feel. I feel like the East Coast, especially Philly, has a lot of culture so you can mix it up a lot. Whereas here, it’s a little bit more laid back. I feel like the Europeans, the way they dress and their appearance, it’s versatile. It always looks well and won’t look out of place, so we’re going with that look now. It’s kind of a European theme. Not really the fit, but the look. We’re doing a lot of blazers with jeans or blazers with slacks and pocket squares, not too many ties. A nice, clean look. I’ve really been into golf. I’ve played a lot this summer. I’m not good, though. I’ll be good in about four or five years, so I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve always had a passion for reading. I did a book drive in Philadelphia, so I’m going try to continue something like that here (in Denver). Definitely for young kids, getting them to enjoy reading because for most kids it’s like dreadful to read. You get them to enjoy it and then they’ll learn something from it—that’s the ultimate goal. My favorite author, if I had to pick one, is Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read all of his books. There haven’t been too many authors where I’ve read multiple books by the same author. He’s had five or six books and I’ve even read a few of his essays. I’m a foodie. I like sushi and Asian bistro restaurants a lot. I like going to the movies. I try to see a lot of different movies. I’ve seen He Got Game so many times. I know it word-for-word. Catch Me If You Can was a great movie. Friday was one of my favorite movies. Love and Basketball was awesome. I’ve seen that a million times. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a great movie.

Follow Iguodala @mindofai9 @mindofai9 www.mindofai9.com


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lineup

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ken reed


lineup

DEPARTMENTS nOtebOOk

16 TimeouT WiTh… Corey BreWer

One-on-one with the Nuggets forward By Robin Carlin

18 you Should KnoW… Jim Gillen

Denver Nuggets head athletic trainer/travel coordinator By Chris Bianchi

20 A liGhT AT The end of The Tunnel

The Rockies down season could be the start of something big By James Merilatt

22 World ClASS

Denver fields a winner at FIBA 3X3 World Tour By Doug Ottewill

24 dreW’S neWS

The cartoonist’s unique take on Colorado sports By Drew Litton

26 CompAre And ConTrAST

Who are the Nuggets, and who can they become? By Robin Carlin

28 WACKy TrAdiTionS in SporTS Fans do some crazy things By Lisa Belkov-Snyder

30 mAKe iT A movemBer To rememBer

Use your soup strainer to raise awareness and research funds By Steve Quinne

32 youTh movemenT

The Rapids spent the 2012 season getting younger By Chris Bianchi

34 The WeeKend WArrior: reC hoopS Guy Presented by CU Sports Medicine

36 norm’S noTeS

An equal opportunity offender

38 Good STuff / BAd STuff

What we like / don’t like about sports this month

40 BiG Boy Toy

For Derek Wolfe of the Broncos the bigger the better By Doug Ottewill

42 The plAyer - JAmie SmiTh

MHSM Scouting Report By Doug Ottewill

44 home SWeeT home

Broncos tight end Joel Dreessen returns to his roots By Julie Browman

48 A SporTS QueSTion from

A BeAuTiful Girl – KAilA evenoff

milehighsports.com | November 2012

Presented by GO Guide

Why are there three periods in hockey?

OpiniOnS

54 Bold in Gold

The Nuggets set sights atop the West By Doug Ottewill

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50 Behind The Wheel – STeve heSS

56 1977

The best year of my life By D-Mac

58 CAllinG iT liKe he SeeS iT

Taylor Branch calls the NCAA onto the carpet By Ken Reed


Letter from the editor

Out of the Box The Nuggets do it differently

A

t the risk of sounding less than impartial, I’ve got a confession to make: I love the Denver Nuggets.

If you’ve read my garble during the past 10 years, you probably already knew that. I know; it’s not cool for media types to profess their affection for any team they’re covering. Heaven forbid anyone with a pen and a forum have a rooting interest. Objectivity is rule No. 1 in J-School, a place I’ve never been. My desire to see the Nuggets win stems from a lifelong relationship with the team. Before I was born, my dad tried out for the Denver Rockets on a whim. I had a Maxie the Miner pennant on the wall of my bedroom. As a little hoopster, I attended the old Denver Pro Basketball Camps, where guys like Mike Evans, Blair Rasmussen, Elston Turner, Kiki Vandeweghe and Bill Hanzlik would show us how to dribble, pass and shoot. When I was in college, my mom began buying season tickets, and she and I have been going to Big Mac or Pepsi Center ever since. And when we started publishing Mile High Sports Magazine back in 2002, everyone from Jeff Bzdelik to Kenyon Martin has been accommodating —win or lose. It’s true; the Nuggets are my team. But that hasn’t ever stopped me from being objective. It’s never stopped me from bemoaning the fact that for more than a decade, Denver has never had a true, sharp-shooting two-guard. I liked Nene the person, but couldn’t stand Nene the player. And I pull for George Karl like no other coach, but I won’t try to convince you he’s Phil Jackson until he wins that elusive ring. But objectivity doesn’t always mean being critical. And for me, when being objective and being a fan meet, it’s a beautiful thing. Here’s what I observe about the Nuggets that I appreciate as a fan: The Nuggets don’t make excuses. They’ve never whined about the fact that Denver is not a preferred, “superstar destination.” They don’t complain about being a small-market team. They’ve never subscribed to the theory that an NBA franchise can’t win without a megastar paired with another superstar, maybe two.

The Nuggets don’t make excuses. Instead, they’ve accepted the landscape of today’s NBA and worked hard to build a winner despite it. They’ve been creative through the draft and free agency. They’ve subscribed to out-of-the-box thinking, refusing to believe that winning a championship can only be done a certain, proven way. And they’ve remained competitive even though they lost their franchise player; there was no “rebuilding” phase.

If and when the Nuggets ever win a title, they’ll have done it by being smart, tough and disciplined—not flashy. And they won’t lose by giving up or buying into the notion that an NBA title will never find its way to a place like Denver. Will they win one? This year, it’s not likely; although they’ve got a puncher’s chance. That’s objective. But it’s also all a fan can ask of his team. On Oct. 1, I received a text from Dan Mohrmann, one of our staff writers. “How much for your yellow Gallo jersey?” he inquired. I didn’t own one—that I knew of. But apparently, the Nuggets elves had brought a few gifts over to the office.

They were sprinkling a little “gold” on everyone, in celebration of the team’s gold jerseys, a brilliant new addition to the season inspired by none other than Josh Kroenke. By my estimation, the ideas of Kroenke, paired with those of general manager Masai Ujiri, are always out of the box—bold and many times gold. I’d been given a new jersey—a nod to the past, but with a mindful eye on what’s ahead. But I wasn’t about to sell it. That’s my team.

Doug Ottewill Editor-in-Chief

THE BIG THREE (OTTEWIll’S GOlD, SIlVER AND BRONzE RECOMMENDATIONS) GOLD – NOODLES (p.80) – Jon Ackerman sits

down at Noodles with Kenneth Faried (no joke) to talk life, hoops and living in Denver.

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SILVER – THE NEW GUY (p. 1) – You probably already saw it (flip a few pages back), but Vanessa Hughes’ Q&A with Andre Iguodala is revealing and refreshing.

BRONZE – THE WHEEL (p. 66) – Pencils Robinson goes Philly-style with Colorado’s best prep reporter, Neil Devlin.


Contributors

ADVERTISING SALES Account ExEcutivEs Chris Dolge – The Buffalo Braves. Will McKinlay – The ones with the short shorts.

DISTRIBUTION

tHis MontH’s toPic: WHAT’S THE BEST BASKETBALL UNIfORM Of ALL TIME?

Story Behind the Story Featuring photographer Don Cudney Don cudney has been to a lot of photo shoots. He’d be the first to tell you that the experience isn’t anything like what we see on television. You don’t get to shoot all day. there’s rarely a catered luncheon with several varieties of caviar. there might be a nice car outside, but a limo would be unusual. And there’s never (if anyone can help it) a guy yelling, “Work it, baby! Make love to the camera!” that’s definitely not the case when shooting the modern athlete. When they’re ready to shoot, it’s Bam! Bam! Bam! And it’s over. before they arrive it’s a whole lot of… …hurry …up …and wait.

his actual number. the public learned of the new gold uniforms on oct. 1; we took photos on sept. 7. furthermore, neither Mile High sports nor Don had ever photographed faried. since college, he seemed to be one of the more animated figures in all of sports, a trait that every photographer cherishes. true to form, faried was as good as advertised. the antics that nuggets fans see on the court were on full display, and Don captured the essence of faried perfectly. And the second-year power forward was in no rush, either. He was a great sport, taking plenty of time to make sure everyone got what was needed. After the shoot, we were sworn to secrecy—no tweeting, no facebook posts, no leaking of any kind. As such, Don waited.

but the cover of the magazine you’re holding was done differently. to begin, there was a sense of anticipation in the air. Although nothing had been released to the public at the time, we were privy to a secret: the nuggets were going to unveil a new uniform and we’d been granted permission to photograph kenneth faried in the slick, never-before-seen duds. in fact, the jersey that he was wearing that day was so new, that it didn’t even feature

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normally the first one to share his creations with twitter followers (@doncudneyphoto) and fans, Don did what he was asked: He sat on the photos and showed no one. finally, on oct. 1, he was allowed to share. And now, you hold the secret in your hands. Here’s a shot of Don and kenneth—right after someone yelled, “that’s a wrap!”

Distribution coorDinAtor Amber Merilatt – Wyoming Cowboys away “browns.”

EDITORIAL

RADIO

EDitor-in-cHiEf Doug Ottewill – Manual Thunderbolts. sEnior EDitors Brian Dvorak – Golden State Warriors’ “The City” jerseys. Michael Stock – Harlem. Followed closely by the Generals. Ted Yhedri – Boston Celtics. contributing EDitors Clinton Doaks – Minneapolis Lakers. Norm LaChatlier – 2012 Baylor Bears. What? Drew Litton – Space Jam’s “TuneSquad” unis. Red Schaefley – New York Knickerbockers (home whites). contributing WritErs Jon Ackerman – Blue rainbow skyline Nuggets jerseys from the Alex English era. Chris Bianchi – I hate you Doug. Gimme the Brooklyn Nets. Julie Browman – Nuggets baby blues. Robin Carlin – Ole Miss Rebels. Jimmy Cautosin – LSU Tigers. Vanessa Hughes – Minnesota Timberwolves. D-Mac – Celtics nut huggers. Daniel Mohrmann – North Carolina baby blues. Woody Paige – Tennessee Vols. Steve Quinne – San Diego Clippers. Ken Reed – UCLA Bruins. Simple. Classy. Cool colors. Championships. Pencils Robinson – George Washington Patriots. Pat Rooney – Chicago Bulls. forMEr ProofrEADEr Laura Rothenfeld – Cleveland Cavaliers (Craig Ehlo style). contributions MHSM will consider, but assumes no responsibility for, unsolicited proposals, manuscripts, photographs and illustrations. All such materials not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned. Haas Rock Publications, LLC retains all reprint rights for submitted materials.

stAtion MAnAgEr Casey Light – Wheat Ridge Farmers (Dave Logan vintage).

CREATIVE

Mile High Sports 975 Lincoln Street, Suite 201 Denver, CO 80203

WorkHorsE 45 Shane George – Des Moines Dragons (biased). Drew Wallace – Jerry West’s baby blue Lakers. contributing PHotogrAPHErs Jathan Campbell – Denver Nuggets navy (alternates). Don Cudney – Vintage Nuggets. Getty Images – L.A. Lakers. Randy Parietti – Denver Rockets. Bill Swartz – French High Buffaloes.

ExEcutivE ProDucEr Josh Pennock – Cleveland Rockers. It’s a shame the WNBA couldn’t make it work in Ohio. RIP Rockers. on-Air Hosts Marcelo Balboa Lance Britton Brian Brown Irv Brown Peter Burns Conner Cordova Dario J. Correa Jimmy Doogan Josh Dover Garrett Duman “Coach” Eklund Andrew Fogoros Eric Goodman Kurt Hansen Travis Heath Lindsay H. Jones Meegan Kiefel Adam Kinney Mark Kiszla

Mark Lammey Reed Marks Jason McBride Matt McChesney Mark McIntosh Renaud Notaro Zach Pugh Joe Rico Marcello Romano Todd Ross Jenny Dean Schmidt Matt Sierra Lisa Snyder Brandon Spano Gil Whiteley Dan Williams Joe Williams Andy Zodin

HAAS ROCK PUBLICATIONS PrEsiDEnt James Merilatt – Hickory Huskers. Accounting Kathy Merilatt – SMU Mustangs, the Koncak Years. in-HousE LEgAL counsEL William T. Sawyer, Esq. – Harvard Crimson. legal@milehighsports.com

P. 303.650.1795 f. 303.524.3410 www.milehighsports.com Copyright 2012 Haas Rock Publications, LLC All rights reserved

Cast Your Vote!

PICK THE SNOW ANGELS COVER GIRL MODEL in november, Americans are deciding the leader of the free world. but that’s not the only important election taking place. MHSM readers will also be determining who will grace the cover of our 10th annual snow Angels issue in December. With nearly 50 candidates to choose from, it won’t be an easy choice. so log onto milehighsports.com, see the options and exercise your all-American right to vote!


ANYONE NEED A

Cold

oNE? Hoops FANs, MEET

CArlA. She’s got you covered this season. And more importantly, she’s got cold Coors Light. Carla wants to make this basketball season memorable with cold Coors Light. So if your idea of a good time involves raining threes, thunderous slam dunks and lightning fast action, hail Carla. She’ll help you celebrate a win with Coors Light as cold as the Rocky Mountains. Photo taken at Sports Column, official home of Denver’s best sports fans, Carla and Coors Light.


Q&A with

JOSH KROENKE

THE FACE

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OF THE

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WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WROTE US ABOUT

HOCKEY

THE BRONCOS

While the cover shot of your last issue was phenomenal, I find that writing or talking about hockey at this point fairly useless. I appreciated your efforts to still cover the sport—sans Avs—but (excuse my bluntness) I just don’t seem to care. The Eagles? College hockey? And this new Cutthroats team? Please. Football is all I really need to get me through hockey “season.” What a pathetic joke the sport is becoming. Sit this season out, dummies. None of us care. Jerry Webster, Denver, Colo.

I know you guys over at Mile High Sports are busy with all things sports, but I was wondering if you are as emotionally exhausted by this Broncos season as I am already. This is one whale of a rollercoaster and it’s barely midway through! Vince Martinez, Submitted via email Editor’s Note: Vince, we’ve invested in once-perweek counseling for the staff, plus a masseuse comes to the office on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you’re strong enough, check out milehighsports.com, where Chris Bianchi and his staff of junior sports maniacs are busily posting something about the orange and blue about every 37 seconds.

How about shooting me an email when your next issue comes out. In 2013, my wish is that you just nix the hockey coverage and give us more Broncos. Burt Szotaberg, Northglenn, Colo. I really enjoyed Dan Mohrmann’s piece on the Gold Pan Trophy and the rivalry between CC and DU. Without question, it was a tidbit of local sports trivia of which I was unaware. The irony, however, is that for such a “great” tradition, I don’t believe many people are aware of it. Maybe Denver isn’t that hockey hotbed we’d like to think we are. J.T. Krantz, Submitted via email

THINGS WE WISH YOU’D WRITTEN US ABOUT

1

Boy, oh, boy! Isn’t it great watching the Buffs return to greatness? Wish in one hand…

Editor’s Note: So, my takeaway from last month’s feedback is that everyone is about as apathetic toward hockey as I suspected. For the record, the majority of our hockey correspondence is of the “I don’t care” variety (as sampled above). While hockey is certainly a great sport, I question—as your editor—the value in putting together a “hockey” issue. Those of you who truly enjoy our efforts to talk puck, you’d better let me know ASAP. Otherwise, the old hockey issue may go the way of the NHL—on ice.

2

Gil Whiteley always says he has a “relationship” with his celebrity callers. What does that mean? That definition rests somewhere between kidney donor and grocery store checker.

JOSH KROENKE In reading Woody Paige’s one-on-one with Josh Kroenke, I found myself liking this young man more than I’d originally anticipated. The trap for a youngster like Josh, who comes from a very affluent family, is to indulge in the benefits provided by previous generations. Clearly, Josh did not do this. It would have been easy for any kid with the last name of “Kroenke” to sit back and lack drive or vision. It’s obvious that Josh Kroenke avoided those pitfalls. The Nuggets and their fans should be proud to have a young, ambitious owner. Ulysses T. Johnson, Submitted via email Editor’s Note: Couldn’t have said it better myself, U.

DAN O’DOWD Correct me if I’m mistaken, but did I see that James Merilatt referred to the Rockies’ Dan O’Dowd as a “Great Boss?” Jim, Submitted via email Editor’s Note: Anonymous “Jim,” thanks for the note. And, yes, you saw that right. Surely this is one of our wiseacre radio callers who simply swiped a Yahoo! email address just to keep things interesting. Or perhaps not…

editor@milehighsports.com 12

milehighsports.com | November 2012

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Can’t wait for Snow Angels next month. My kids love it. Supermom, you’re finally coming around!


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8 THINGS YOU’LL LEARN iN THE NOTEBOOK

your local sports radio lineup

The Nugget head trainer doubles as the team’s travel agent. (p. 18)

Dexter Fowler made himself a lot of money in 2012. (p. 20)

Somewhere in the Netherlands, there’s a Dutch version of Dr. Naismith. (p. 22)

Jocks-turned-announcers aren’t the brightest bulbs on the string. (p. 28)

Having a mustache increases a man’s earning potential. (p. 30)

NOT EVERYONE IS A FAN OF THE LOVABLE MASCOT OF THE ROCKIES. (p. 38)

Fixing the ice requires a hockey game to be three periods. (p. 48)

For some people, an hour of cardio per day just isn’t enough. (p.50)

LEADERBOARD What’s up? What’s doWn?

Denver nUGGeTS

Heading into the season, the blue and yellow are a trendy pick in the West.

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milehighsports.com | November 2012

ColoraDo avalanChe While the NHL lockout continues, the Avs are out of sight and out of mind.


Timeout With

COREY BREWER Denver Nuggets Forward | As told to Robin Carlin

My dad put a light outside on our basketball court, so my brother and I used to play basketball outside at three o’clock in the morning.

I hate when people dIg In theIr nose In publIc.

I’m from the country. I mIss the land and the trees. If I wasn’t playIng basketball, I’d be farmIng. we raIsed tobacco, corn, soybeans–all kInds of stuff. and we had a couple of cows and some horses runnIng around In the barn. we also had chIckens, goats and a bunch of pIgs.

I’m not a bIg car guy; I lIke trucks. I have a sIlverado that’s raIsed up wIth bIg tIres.

I have a mInI-bulldog named ChIef, and a pet goat named bIlly. I was a Dallas Cowboys fan when I was a kid, but now I like the Tennessee Titans—they came to town in 1999, so I’ve been a big fan since then.

I Was an I love the bahamas InDIana Winning the national my mom makes these pork PaCers Fan championship—two of them—in 2006 chops with green beans and mashed and 2007 during my groWIng sophomore and junior potatoes—that’s my favorite. year at Florida were uP. I lIkeD my favorite college reggIe memories. I go back I played football and ran track in high school. I ran there every summer. I admIred the 200, the 400, and I was the state high-jump MIller. It’s great. champion. I jumped 6-foot-9. steve mcnaIr. My little boy, Kellen (“Kb”), always waKes up and says, “daddy, daddy, i love you.” it’s really cute.

lately, I’ve been lIstenIng to hunter hayes’ “wanted” and a lot of 2 chaInz. 16

milehighsports.com | November 2012

Life Is my favorIte movIe. I love I’m crushIng on eddIe murphy. ever sInce hIgh school, me and my frIends would quote that movIe.

eva mendes.


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YOU SHOULD KNOW WHO:

Jim Gillen WHat:

Denver nuggets heaD athletic trainer/travel coorDinator WHY: From the days of Dikembe mutombo’s finger-wagging, through the horror years of the late 1990s, on to the Carmelo Anthony era and to the young and talented nuggets of today, there perhaps has only been one constant through all those teams, coaches and uniforms: Head athletic trainer Jim Gillen. ¶ in his 22nd year of overseeing the nuggets’ trainers, Gillen is just as important to the nuggets’ success today as he was when the nuggets upset the Supersonics back in 1994. The Kansas native crossed town in the early ‘90s to join the nuggets after working in the Broncos’ strength-andconditioning department in the late ‘80s under famed trainer Steve “Greek” Antonopulos. ¶ Gillen’s job today is filled with different responsibilities. From working with strength-andconditioning coach Steve Hess to booking the team’s hotels on the road, Gillen is one of the many unsung heroes behind the baby blues. ¶ But while Gillen puts in long hours at Pepsi Center—up to 80 hours a week in-season—Gillen also finds time to donate his time and money off the court as well. Gillen founded the High School Athletic Trainer Award scholarship nine years ago, which annually grants a $2,000 award along with an Automated external Defibrillator (AeD) to three high school training programs. ¶ “i’ve always wanted to give back,” Gillen said of his motivation for starting the foundation. “High school athletic trainers have the same background as i do, but they have to struggle with supplies. There’s no money there for anything.” by Chris bianChi

@chrisdbianchi

The (currenT nuggeTs Team is) so young and They wanT To do whaT’s righT. They seem To have a differenT level of appreciaTion for whaT you do for Them. in 22 years, This mighT be The besT Time To be in This organizaTion. - Jim gillen

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milehighsports.com |November 2012


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A Light at the End of the Tunnel The Rockies down season could be the start of something big | By James Merilatt

H

ow bad was the Rockies season? In the end, they couldn’t even lose right. At the end of a 2012 campaign in which Colorado became irrelevant before Memorial Day, fans had only one thing to root for down the stretch—reaching the 100-loss plateau. But a 13-inning victory in the 160th game of the year kept that “dream” from being realized, ensuring that the “Year of the Fan” didn’t deliver one high note for those who don purple apparel. But that doesn’t mean the season was a total loss. While everyone was busy tuning out the Rockies, the team was showing some positive signs. In the midst of the worst season in franchise history, there were glimmers of hope for the future. Their outfield should be set for years to come. Carlos Gonzalez just turned 27 and is fresh off his first All-Star campaign. Dexter Fowler will be 27 by the start of next season and he just completed the breakout season Rockies fans had been looking for from the center fielder, flirting

.285/12/56 “ We know where our weaknesses lie and we have challenged everyone in the organization to get this fixed!” – rockies owner Dick Monfort, in an email to season ticket holders during the 2012 season

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with .300 all year long. And Tyler Colvin, also 27, solidified his spot in right field by showing he could hit for average (.293) and had a little pop in his bat (18 HRs). The infield is also loaded. Troy Tulowitzki had a disappointing season, to say the least, as injuries limited him to only 47 games. But at only 28, he’s still one of the best young players in the game. And it appears as though Colorado has found his double-play mate, with 23-year-old Josh Rutledge looking like he’ll be a permanent fixture at second base. Jordan Pacheco, who will be 27 in January, proved to be a .300 hitter and a versatile option at either corner position, while Chris Nelson, also 27, started to live up to his first-round potential with a 100-hit and .300 batting average season. The biggest highlight from the season, however, occurred behind the plate. For years, the Rockies have been in search of “the catcher of the future,” trotting out prospects like Chris Iannetta, Jayhawk Owens, Ben Petrick and

others, only to see a serious of misfortunes derail their careers. But in 2012, Wilin Rosario finally was able to break the pattern. The “Baby Bull,” who will be 24 by the start of next season, provided the biggest power bat in Colorado’s lineup, slugging 28 home runs during his rookie campaign. Will this spell success down the road? Time will tell. But keep in mind, the Rockies have a history of bouncing back from terrible seasons. Prior to this year, the most losses Colorado had endured in a season was 95; they reached that level of futility in 1993 (their inaugural campaign) and 2005. In each instance, the Rockies were in the postseason two years later; they earned a wild card berth in the strikeshortened 1995 season and enjoyed their unforgettable “Rocktober” run in 2007. Yes, 2012 was terrible. But perhaps the foundation was built for a big run in 2014.

@jamesmerilatt

The batting average, home run and RBI totals for Nolan Arenado, the Rockies’ top minor-league prospect, this season in Tulsa (AA)

cashing in

The highesT-paid cenTer fielders in baseball

The only downside to Dexter Fowler’s breakout season? It came in a contract year, meaning the rockies are going to have to open the checkbook to keep him in purple pinstripes. How much? Here’s a list of the five center fielders with the largest salaries in Major League Baseball in 2012:

MaTT KeMp (DoDgErs)

adaM Jones (orIoLEs)

$20,000,000

$14,250,000

milehighsports.com | november 2012

Josh haMilTon (rAngErs) Yoenis cespedes (A’s)

andrew MccuTcheon (PIrATEs)

$12,000,000

$8,580,000

$9,000,000


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World Class

Denver fields a winner at FIBA 3X3 World Tour | by Doug Ottewill Here’s something else you probably didn’t know: Denver was oh-soclose to having yet another world champion.

H

ere’s something you probably didn’t know: FIBA, which is essentially the organization that governs basketball on an international level, recently launched a global three-on-three basketball tournament. Similar to local events such as “Hoop It Up” FIBA’s concept aims to involve as many hoopsters as possible. But the purest form of basketball, once relegated to parks, gyms and driveways in America, has now gone global. Five qualifying tournaments (Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Spain and New York City) were played throughout the summer, with a world champion being crowned in Miami in September.

In a summer that saw multiple local Olympians, most notably four-time gold medalist Missy Franklin, a three-on-three basketball team from Colorado found themselves playing for a world title in Miami. Aurora’s Patrick Hannaway and Denver’s Corey Campbell, Chris Holloway and Derek Griffin, who works as a sales representative for Kroenke Sports, first qualified by winning the 2012 Hoop It Up event held at Jeffco Stadium. The win earned them an allexpenses-paid trip to New York, where they played in FIBA’s 3x3 World Tour Tournament, held at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets. The NYC tournament had 15 teams representing the USA, Canada,

Puerto Rico and one team all the way from Russia. After an opening game loss, Denver rebounded by winning their pool. Ultimately, they faced an undefeated team from Puerto Rico in the tournament final— and won. Along with the North American crown came a $12,000 check. That win secured a trip to Miami for a shot at the world title. In a 12-team bracket, Denver, after losing Hannaway to a tournamentending knee injury in game one, managed to advance to the final six slots. With no substitutions, the team lost in an NYC-rematch to Puerto Rico, who had qualified as North America’s runner up. As such, Denver narrowly missed out on the $30,000 prize and the title of world champ.

@dottewill

LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul Editor’s choice for a hypothetical “Team USA” three-on-three entry via Twitter (Who’s on your team? @dottewill)

alternative hoops

The mosT noTable variaTions of Dr. naismiTh’s game 3-on-3 – Even FIBA agrees that a basketball game that requires fewer players, and is boiled down to the basics—pass, pick, dribble, shoot – is tough to beat.

Like volleyball has beach volleyball, swimming has synchronized swimming, we want three-onthree (basketball) to be part of it.

– Patrick baumann, fiba secretary general, on the possibility of making three-on-three an olympic sport

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milehighsports.com | november 2012

h-o-r-s-e – It’s a great way to improve one’s shooting skills or, in some instances, show your buddies you take and can make a shot that would get anyone yanked from a junior high game. 6-on-6 – At times called “netball,” this iteration was largely associated with the evolution of women’s basketball, this early version of ladies hoops pitted three forwards against three guards. Each team had guards on one end of the court and forwards on the other. Only forwards were allowed to shoot, while guards could only defend. The WNBA is terrible, but it’s light years ahead of this game. 21 – Twenty-one is a spinoff of simply “one-on-one.” In 21, up to three free throws are awarded after a made basket.

The winner must land exactly on the number 21 to win. Going over results in a penalty, usually a score back down to 13.

Korfball – While not exactly basketball, Korfball, a game invented by the Dutch, is very similar. There’s a high hoop (11-foot-5) in the middle of the court and there are eight players on each team (four men, four women). Korfball has never taken off in the US. Then again, neither have wooden shoes. KnocKouT – A camp favorite, knockout is a fun game with an unlimited number of participants. The shooter (beginning at the charity stripe) must make his shot before the man in line behind him does. If he doesn’t, he’s “knocked out.” Last man standing wins. slamball – Officially registered and trademarked, this is basketball in its most violent sense. Utilizing trampolines and “full” contact, injuries are as common as baskets.


Drew's Views Drew LittoN sums up the moNth iN CoLoraDo sports

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milehighsports.com | November 2012


YEAR OF THE BRONCOS FAN HERE’S TO ALL YOU BRONCOS FANS. FOR WATCHING EVERY GAME IN YOUR LUCKY SEATS. FOR NEVER WASHING YOUR LUCKY JERSEYS, AND FOR PUTTING UP WITH THE SMELL OF THOSE JERSEYS. HERE’S TO ALL THE FANS AND ALL THEY DO.

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GIRL’S TAKE PRESENTED BY

Compare and Contrast November BIRTHDAYS Who are the Nuggets, and who can they become? | By Robin Carlin

E

veryone agrees that Denver is a top team in the West, but exactly “how good” they will become is the subject of great debate. The Nuggets are deep and talented, but because of their collective youth, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

Here’s a quick look at the team’s projected starters, where each player is now, and who he could become in a best-case scenario.

Ty Lawson Comparable to (but better than): Tony Parker now | Aims to be: Tony Parker in his prime Like Parker, Lawson is a small, lightning-fast guard who can push the tempo and penetrate in the half court. But for the Nuggets to be great, Lawson needs to exhibit the scoring consistency of Parker when the Spurs were collecting rings.

Jonathan Herrera (Rockies) – Nov. 3

Ty Lawson (Nuggets) – Nov. 3

John Grant, Jr. (Mammoth) – Nov. 7

Martin Rivero (Rapids) – Nov. 13

Guillermo Moscoso Jesse Schwartzman (Rockies) – Nov. 14 (Outlaws) – Nov. 14

Quincy Miller (Nuggets) – Nov. 18

Zane Beadles (Broncos) – Nov. 19

Kenneth Faried (Nuggets) – Nov. 19

Brock Osweiler (Broncos) – Nov. 22

Drew Pomeranz (Rockies) – Nov. 22

Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche) – Nov. 23

andre IguodaLa Comparable to (but better than): Rudy Gay | Aims to be: Scottie Pippen Pippen was one of the NBA’s most versatile players, sound in every aspect of the game, on both ends of the floor. The good news for Denver is that Iggy, their accomplished starter, is extremely comparable. Don’t believe me? Look at his “sans Jordan” stats:

Iguodala: 15.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.7 spg, 46.1 fg% 33.1 3p% Pippen: 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 47.3% fg% 32.6 3p%

danILo gaLLInarI Comparable to (but better than): Nicolas Batum | Aims to be: Kevin Durant Batum, you say? Not exactly flattering, but statistically speaking, it’s a fair comparison —and therein lies the problem. The Nuggets need more from Gallo. He’s got the ability to score and is solid from the foul line. But, he’s had trouble staying healthy and getting his jumper to find the net. If Gallo is great, so will the Nuggets.

KenneTh FarIed Comparable to (but better than): Joakim Noah | Aims to be: Dennis Rodman Noah’s stats may be better, but looking at their per-36-minute projected stats, Faried was a far more productive player last season (12.2 rebounds and 16.4 points versus Noah’s 11.6 and 12.1). Now that the kid has Coach Karl’s confidence, his numbers should skyrocket.

JaVaLe Mcgee Comparable to (but better than): Nene | Aims to be: Kevin Garnett Finding a “comparable” for McGee isn’t easy; there aren’t many players in his mold. Garnett is more of a finesse player, but if McGee becomes a consistent scorer with a bit more touch, look out. It could be argued that even Nene’s ball skills are better, but the Nuggets prefer the toughness of McGee. McGee has only missed seven games in the last two seasons while Nene’s history of injury is well-chronicled. Nene typically disappeared in the postseason, and that’s when McGee shined the most in Denver. Get the idea? There are plenty of reasons for optimism surrounding the Nuggets. Greatness hinges on their key players reaching their potential.

@carlinrobin

1&6 26

milehighsports.com | November 2012

FORGOT ABOUT DRE? Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, But nothin comes out when they move their lips, Just a buncha gibberish, And mutha******* as act like, they forgot about Dre - Dr. Dre and Eminem, chorus to “Forgot About Dre” Seemingly every year, the basketball world wants to write off an aging Andre Miller. But just because Miller won’t likely be a starter, and just because he won’t get the buzz that surrounds Ty Lawson doesn’t mean he isn’t a huge key for the Nuggets. Miller proved in the playoffs that he’s one of the game’s elite—still. Thus, George Karl and Masai Ujiri showed huge confidence in him by offering up a $14.6 million, three-year deal. Look for the wily guard to repay the favor in spades. Ya’ll know me. Still the same ol’ G.

Number of games Timofey Mosgov finished with double-digit rebounds, and number of games he finished with double-digit points.


Loveland 4-Paks are actual lift tickets that can be used by anyone on any day of the season. Use them yourself on 4 different days or share with friends and family all on the same day. No restrictions. No black outs. 4-Paks only available through 11-18-12. 4-paks are not available for purchase at any ticket window.


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Wacky Traditions in Sports Fans do some crazy things | By Lisa Belkov-Snyder

S

ports are fun to play, but they’re also just as fun to watch thanks to a rich history of crazy fans and sportsspecific or even team-specific traditions that have spanned across the decades. Even though we as fans (and members of the media for that matter), aren’t scoring the game-winning goal, we still get heavily involved in the sport and in our teams through a number of ways. I’ve selected a couple of the many traditions that have defined the “sport” of watching sports.

A Good Old-FashiOned

Horse Tale

There’s always a party at Sports Authority Field and, as crazy fans know, it’s BYOH: Bring Your Own Horse! Yep, last month there was a very macho man, beard and all, who had stuffed himself into a semilife size fuzzy white horse costume with bright orange reigns to boot. That earned him the honor of “CRAZY FAN OF THE WEEK.” But he’s not alone. Even before the fall season kicked off, a crazy corn maze in Greeley took on Manning Madness. While I have no clue as to the amount of planning this artistic marvel took, I can only assume it was a tremendous labor of love. Obviously, some do-or-die fans were Broncos/Manning crazy to create something like this and welcome the best quarterback in the league to the Mile High City. As I really don’t know the specifics behind the maze, l can’t help but admire the outcome—in the maze, on the field and in the locker room. As the phrase goes, “A horse is a horse, of course of course.” But a Bronco by all accounts is a stud to be reckoned with.

36 The number of footballs that the home team must provide the referee for each National Football League game.

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milehighsports.com | november 2012

“C” of Red Greater solidarity comes from tens of thousands of your fellow sports fanatics all wearing the same color. Its beginnings may have come from the NHL’s Calgary Flames during the 1986 Stanley Cup Finals. The Edmonton Oilers’ fans were in the midst of “Hat Trick Fever,” as they tried to win their third-consecutive championship. In response, Calgary promoted “C of Red” to encourage their fans to come dressed entirely in red. During next year’s firstround playoffs, Calgary’s opponent responded with the “Winnipeg White Out.” Now, it is extremely popular among colleges and of course our favorite NHL team, the Colorado Avalanche and their “whiteout” game. I hope we’ll get to see one of those again real soon.

The No. 1 Heckler You’ve probably sat next to him or in front of him and maybe even had the pleasure of receiving a massive beer spill from him. Or her. Yeah, the ladies are just a little passionate about their sports. Don’t go there. Heckling is one of the least favorable traditions in pro sports fandom, but jeers and taunts are as common at games as the cheers and applause. You’ll recognize the dude or dudette as an ardent fan of the home team: They’ve got season tickets that have been in the family for decades and they always sit directly behind the visiting team’s bench. The heckler taunts players through a megaphone or their very own big mouth and makes fun of coaches’ outfits. Do you know one? I do. Find me at a Nuggets’ game this season, and I’ll point HER out!

Call LIVE with Lisa! any weekend morning between 9a–10a on Mile High Sports Radio (AM 1510 | FM 93.7 | milehighsports.com) and let me know what rings familiar to you.

livewithlisa1510.com

Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein. – Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann in 1996


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Make it a Movember to Remember

Use your soup strainer to raise awareness and research funds | By Steve Quinne

M

y mustache has been winning awards for the better part of a half-century. Ever since I was awarded “best mustache” in Mrs. Matterhorn’s kindergarten class, I knew these bristles on my upper lip would take me places. But until recently, I never knew how much good they could do for others. Back in 2003, a group of 30 “Mo Bros.” in Melbourne, Australia, decided the mustache needed to make a comeback (some of us knew it had never gone away). In just one year, they realized that the month of “Movember” could be more than just a force in men’s fashion— it could be a force for change in men’s health. More than 450 participants raised $54,000 (Australian) for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia in 2004. Not bad for a group of guys whose national coat of arms features a kangaroo and an emu. Fast forward to 2011 when more than 850,000 men (and supportive women and children) registered with movember.com to help raise money and awareness for men’s health initiatives and issues in more than 15 countries across three continents—up almost 100 percent from the 447,000 that registered in 2010. The Movember movement looks to eclipse the one million

mark this year and should raise more than $150 million (U.S.) for organizations like The Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, as well as a Global Action Plan that helps more than 100 prostate cancer researchers around the globe collaborate. Participation is easy. Begin the month with a clean-shaven face. For the entire month, grow and groom your mustache. Do not join the mustache to the sideburns (that’s a beard) or to the chin (that’s a goatee). Conduct yourself like a true country gentleman. You can make your participation official by registering and pledging/raising funds at movember.com. And for the month of Movember, it’s okay to take the “silent” out of the “strong and silent type.” Movember participants are encouraged to schedule their annual doctor’s checkups during the month and to speak openly about men’s health issues. After all, it’s the best way to ensure we’ll celebrate many more Movembers in the years to come.

a shaRP uPPeR lIP FIve musTache sTyles ThaT jusT can’T be beaT The Chevron Popularized by Tom Selleck, this classic American style says, “I’m here to party, but I handle my business.” Looks best with a pair of jean shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. The ImperIal If you were an army general in the 19th Century, this look was military issue. Now, it’s the best way to identify you as someone who spends weekends recreating the Battle of Chickamauga. Requires only slightly less grooming than a prized Pomeranian. The DalI Those who have ever contemplated the surreal Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening know what I’m talking about. It’s somewhat ironic how orderly and neat this particular style can be. The Walrus Wilford Brimley and Craig Stadler not only sported the style, they shared the girth. I’m fairly certain this mustache style is what John Lennon had in mind when he wrote the lyrics, “Goo goo g’joob.” The horseshoe The mustache of choice for Steve Quinne and Hulk Hogan alike. As with hand-grenades, close only counts here.

@stevequinne

4.3

The average percent more money a mustachioed man makes compared to his clean-shaven counterparts. It pays to have a cookie duster! Source – Quicken & The American Mustache Institute, 2009

every Halloween I shave my mustache in order to participate in Movember. It’s truly the most frightening day of the year. – Steve Quinne

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milehighsports.com | november 2012


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Youth Movement The Rapids spent the 2012 season getting younger | By Chris Bianchi

he Colorado Rapids might not have made the playoffs for the first time in three years, but the burgundy still managed to take several big steps towards a stronger future in 2012. From the surprise contributions from first-year players to the emergence of younger players and to several key re-signings during the season, progress was made at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Oscar Pareja’s first season, even if the scoreboard didn’t sometimes reflect it. The emergence of younger players such as Martin Rivero (left) and Tony Cascio along with the key re-signings of Drew Moor, Jeff Larentowicz and Matt Pickens, amongst

3

others, helped make the Rapids’ 2012 season one to build upon in 2013. The Rapids entered the 2012 campaign as the second-oldest group in Major League Soccer. But during the course of the season, younger players stepped up and younger additions were made, such as the acquisition of 27-year-old Hendry Thomas, as Colorado appeared to make a concentrated effort to build towards forming a younger group. So while the Rapids will watch the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs on their televisions this year, they took major steps to ensuring they’ll be back out on the pitch for the 2013 postseason and beyond.

coloradorapids.com

The approximate length, in months, of the Rapids’ winter vacation, significantly shorter than most of the other local professional teams.

FIVE TO WATCH | This season’s key addiTions for The rapids The boys are, and I have said this numerous times, the boys always give us what they’ve got on the field. And despite of the frustration that we have during the season, they face every game with a lot of pride and energy..

– Rapids head coach oscar pareja on his team in September.

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for the rapids, 2012 served as a building block towards a stronger future. and in the process, the rapids were able to uncover several players who will be major assets for the team moving forward. While there’s never a guarantee that any player will return, these guys contributed to pareja’s squad significantly in their first season and look like they could be keepers for next year and potentially down the road:

Hendry THomas The Honduras international only arrived in August, but he’s already established himself as a critical part of Colorado’s midfield. Teaming up with Jeff Larentowicz at defensive midfield, the former English Premier League player has been a bulldog and tackling machine from day one.

milehighsports.com | november 2012

marTin rivero He’s becoming a staple of this page, and for good reason. The quiet yet confident 22-year-old Argentine helped orchestrate the offense out of the Rapids’ midfield in 2012, and looks like an anchor in the Colorado midfield for years to come. Rivero was a surprise omission from mlssoccer.com’s “24 under 24” list in September.

Luis ZapaTa The attack-minded lef t back made his impact felt through his near-constant ventures forward, proving himself to be a major asset on the attacking end with his crisp deliveries. While on the older side at 32, the Colombian could once again find himself as an option for Pareja in 2013.

Tony CasCio The rookie out of the University of Connecticut scored the game-winning goal in the Rapids’ road opener in Philadelphia and was a major contributor in year one. With a combination of size, surprising quickness and a wicked shot, the 22-year-old may have earned extra minutes in his sophomore campaign.

Jaime CasTriLLon A part of the Colombian influx into Commerce City, Castrillon was among the Rapids’ best goal scorers and seemed to find a way to simply put the ball in the back of the net. The former Colombian international’s goalscoring touch will likely be welcomed back to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.


THE WEEKEND WARRIOR PREsENTED by

THE WARRIOR: Rec Hoops Guy

Featuring Josh Dover, writer on milehighsports.com and host of Pregame on Mile High Sports Radio

R

ec Hoops Guy is hard to define. He’s not necessarily identifiable, unless you happen to catch him at the gym —or talk to his significant other.

On the court, he’s easy to spot. His game is decent, even if it’s a shadow of its former state. Many times, Rec Hoops Guy just can’t give it up. He used to be a real ballplayer. And he’s not quite ready to relinquish that lot in life. Worse, sometimes he can simply be trying to prove to the world he is the player his former coach could not see. He’s been bitter since high school or college, when the Old Ball Coach gave him a steady dose of pine. Now, he’s got the most expensive Nikes on the market and insists on proving his talents at a gym near you.

KNEES

Off the court, he’s harder to detect. Ask his wife or girlfriend, however, and she’ll provide plenty of clues. He leaves a smelly gym bag with sweaty sneakers in the middle of the family room floor, ready for the next game. He mysteriously skips out on weeknight ongoings. “Gotta game,” he says under his breath before slipping out the door. He’s builds schedules around the many leagues in which he plays. She knows.

ACL and meniscus tears are the most common “serious” knee injuries to basketball players. These generally require some type of surgery and are not to be taken lightly. But perhaps more common is tendonitis in the knees. Pounding and running can be tough on aging knees. Proper footwear is key, as is proper warm-up. But if and when hoopsters feel a constant nagging pain not caused by a sudden injury, it’s likely tendonitis. The key in treatment and recovery is rest and rehab, which are the only true solutions. Ibuprofen can help on a game-bygame basis, but the problem is simply being covered, and potentially worsened.

And while Rec Hoops Guy is relatively harmless, his risk for injury is high. He plays too many games to completely avoid the odds. Twisted ankles. Knee disasters of all kinds. Foot problems. You name it, the old ballplayer is likely to suffer one or two, even when he is decent shape.

FOOT

Plantar fasciitis, one of basketball’s most common injuries, occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is damaged from being overstretched or overused. Stretching is a no-no, as that can only worsen the healing process. Blood flow is essential to recovery, so again, proper footwear is key. By the same token, massage and stimulation can aid recovery. Wearing cold wraps at rest can also be effective. But the key, especially at the first sign of detection, is rest.

ANKLES

But, our friends from CU Sports Medicine are willing to help. Enjoy—tips and tricks for Rec Hoops Guy.

The rolled ankle, it’s easily the most common injury to this poor guy. Step on someone else’s foot and it’s one to five weeks of recovery—like clockwork. The key, however, is two-fold. First, it’s critical to identify the severity and type of sprain that’s been suffered. This is a key determination in deciding if it’s a “nagging” injury, or if it’s actually dangerous to continue play. Always consult a doctor for that diagnosis. Secondly, and perhaps the biggest, most common mistake, is rehab. All ball players get them, but it’s the rest and rehab that count most. Ankles will often “feel better” before they “are better.” Ask a doctor or rehabilitation specialist what exercises are best for strengthening those ligaments that have been damaged.

The Weekend Warrior is brought to you by the physicians at: The CU Sports Medicine team provides cutting-edge care for a full spectrum of activity-related injuries. Whether you’re a competitive or recreational athlete—or even a Weekend Warrior—CU Sports Medicine specializes in results-oriented programs to get you back in the game. Contact CU Sports Medicine at either of their convenient locations: Denver 2000 S. Colorado Blvd. / Colorado Center Tower One / 720.848.8200 | BoulDer 311 Mapleton Avenue / 303.441.2219 34

milehighsports.com | November 2012


Norm’s Notes An Equal Opportunity Offender Is Derek Wolfe the next J.J. Watt? Only if Joe Mays is the next Brian Cushing.   Can George Karl find enough minutes to keep everyone happy? I hear he’s devoting at least 20 minutes to the pregame sing-along. Do you like the grandiose talk coming out of Larry Eustachy? It beats having a guy with Mr. Magoo-like vision. Should fans cheer for D.J. Williams when he returns to the lineup? If he can beat out Keith Brooking.   Why isn’t Jim McElwain getting more heat? Temperatures are usually cooler as you travel north.

CaN WE oFFICIaLLy MaKE FuN oF THE PEoPLE WHo DouBTED PEyToN MaNNING? Don’t bother; he’ll probably make a commercial about it. are the Nuggets going to regret the JaVale McGee contract? Only if by “Nuggets” you’re referring specifically to George Karl.   Why do so many players leave the Rockies and then play better? They’re no longer on a terrible team.  

Is Knowshon Moreno’s career in Denver over? I’m still waiting for it to begin.   Do the Nuggets have anyone who can knock down an open jumper? That brand of rough play was reserved for the ‘90s Knicks.   Is this the year Joe Scott gets the Pioneers to the Big Dance? Will next year be the year you don’t ask this question?    How much are you missing the avalanche? Slightly more than I’m missing the Grizzlies and Rage.  

are you getting tired of the footballrelated excuses coming out of Boulder? It’s rapidly approaching “Churchill” status. 36

milehighsports.com | November 2012

Does Von Miller’s sack dance annoy you, too? Not as much as the silly eyeglasses craze he started.

Will the Buffs be able to keep Tad Boyle? Are they going to be able to pay him to coach the football team, too? Should Tulo be playing in the World Baseball Classic? It’s not like he plays between April and October.   What’s your win-total prediction for the Nuggets? About two more than my age at my last romantic interlude; you figure it out.   Is John Fox too conservative to coach a Peyton Manning-led team? I really don’t think politics plays any part in their relationship.   Is the NHL now a secondary sport? Only because I can’t spell “tertiary.”   What are you most thankful for? Deep-fried turkey!


GOOD STUFF

BAD STUFF

Things we LIKE about sports

Things we DON’T LIKE about sports

Postseason Baseball Every pitch. Every out. Every inning. It’s nearly impossible to dislike the best playoffs in sports.

The New Golds Or should we say the new rainbows? It’s a new look with an old twist or just basketball beauty.

Not Experiencing Postseason Baseball As noted to your left, these games are outstanding. Ehem, Rockies?

The Lumberjack If you like his game, give No. 52 a listen on Mile High Sports Radio (Tuesday mornings at 8:00 a.m.).

Turnovers Simply put, the Broncos D doesn’t create enough of them, and the O makes too many.

King of the Month

BUFFS BASKETBALL

Roll, Tad, roll. For the first time in decades, there’s an unquestionable excitement about hoops in Boulder.

NYC Drama Whether one is a Tebow fan or not, it’s both funny and ironic watching the “show” that follows him.

Welcome to the WAC At last, Joe Scott and his Pioneers aren’t traveling to Middle Southern Alabama Tech U.

Tool of the Month

THE TRUTH?

“I couldn’t stand that f***ing dinosaur for one more season.” – Jim Tracy.

The NHL Out of sight, out of mind, eh boys? Get it figured out before everyone just forgets.

SNOW ANGELS COVER GIRLS VOTING CONTEST And you thought President was the only thing you’d be voting for this month, right? Wrong. This is truly your chance—as an American—to make a difference. Log onto milehighsports.com beginning Nov. 5, click on the “Snow Angels Cover Girl Voting” link and weigh in on the lucky lady YOU would like to see on our next cover. Friends, foes and family, remember, America needs you.

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Buffs Football Did you ever think we’d be more excited about CU hoops than CU football, in November?

Thursday Night Football We liked Friday for high school, Saturday for college, Sunday for NFL and MNF to make us forget it’s Monday.


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SUNDAY DRIVE POWERED BY

Big Boy Toy

For Derek Wolfe of the Broncos, the bigger the better | by Doug Ottewill Hometown: Negley, Ohio First Car: Ford Ranger (“Paid 400 bucks for it.”) tHe Car: 2009 Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT speCs: Engine – 400-HP, 4.2-liter V8; Transmission – Automatic; Top Speed – 170 mph; 0-60 mph – 5.1 seconds; Color – Grigio Granito; Interior – Handcrafted chocolate brown leather. stiCker priCe: $79,564 (as tested)

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milehighsports.com | November 2012


O

ne night after the San Francisco Giants had secured a spot in the 2012 World Series, the Broncos’ first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft is settled comfortably in the driver’s seat of a car that used to belong to the general manager of the Giants. “Really?” he asks upon learning of the car’s past. “I really like the black on brown.” This particular rig, a Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT truly owned by the man who runs the best team in the National League, is, at worst, “gently used.” Derek Wolfe, the 36th pick this past summer, is anything but gentle. He’s rough and tumble, but he does, in fact, have a penchant for fine automobiles. In fact, he’s expressed an interest in owning a Maserati more than once before. The car, like Wolfe, is a finely tuned machine. Both big and powerful. Both representing the very upper echelon of their species. Both “athletes” in every sense of the word. “I’ve always been a truck guy,” says Wolfe, who’s got a gigantic truck parked in front of his home. “But I’ve also always wanted a fast car.” No sooner than the words escape his mouth, he eases—then stomps—on to the gas pedal. A smile comes across his face, and the ride has just begun. “Peyton Manning was the first guy on the team to text me when I got drafted.” - Wolfe, on his recollection of draft night “In South Florida, everywhere you look, somebody’s got a Maserati.” - Wolfe, on observing cars in Florida “Chris (Bianchi) was like, ‘Hey, you want to take some pictures with a model?’ I was like, ‘Okay.’” - Wolfe, on participating in MHSM’s annual Snow Angels issue “I like Denver. There’s a lot to do.” - Wolfe, on his new residence “Peyton is a great guy. He’s got kind of a dry sense of humor, but he’s really funny.” - Wolfe, on Manning “Where I grew up, it was very rural. We lived on a Black Angus farm. We had about 110 head.” - Wolfe, on his rural upbringing in Ohio “My goal – eventually – is to have three cars. I’m going to keep my truck; I’m probably going to keep that for a long time. And then, get something faster, like a Maserati. And then, something older, like a straight up American muscle car.” - Wolfe, on his plans for future car shopping

“The last time I walked into a nice showroom, I was in Florida. It was right after OTAs. I thought I might want to get a Panamera. I was looking at one, just standing there. I had just gotten out of a workout. I’m wearing a tight cutoff shirt, shorts and high socks with workout shoes on. And the guy’s like, ‘Can I help you?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I was thinking about test driving this.’ And

he said, ‘Not in here you’re not.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Not in here your not – serious customers only.’ I showed him my black card and said, ‘Is this serious enough for you?’ And I walked out.” - Wolfe, on a bad car shopping experience “If I get bored, I buy dumb stuff. Not even expensive stuff, just dumb stuff.” - Wolfe on a personal bad habit

“I drove up to Breckenridge, and you know those zip lines off the highway on the way up? When you drive past them, everybody stops and tries to stare. I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ It’s towers where people zip line – let’s not get in an accident over them.” - Wolfe, on his mountain driving observation November 2012 | milehighsports.com

41


Smith is a smart player, often making plays with his head, long before the ball reaches his feet. Learning the game in Europe, Smith brings a savvy brand of play to MLS.

Unfortunately for Smith, injuries have dotted his career in Colorado. Both in 2009 and again in 2011, Smith has suffered major knee injuries – specifically having to surgically repair his ACL on both occasions. He has, however, come back both times, too, gritting out the sevenmonth rehab period. Smith has shown heart and toughness in the process.

Launching rocket shots has always been a specialty of Smith, who has managed to find the back of the net, even when his minutes have been limited due to injury. His keen offensive sense is complemented by a strong boot.

MHSM SCOUTING REPORT

NAME

JAMIE SMITH

POSITION: MIdfIEldER AGE: 31 HEIGHT: 5'8" WEIGHT: 164 lbS. ExPERIENCE: fOURTH yEAR WITH THE COlORAdO RAPIdS; AbERdEEN fC (SCOTTISH PREMIER lEAGUE) PhotograPhy By Don CuDney Photo | @DonCuDneyPhoto 42

milehighsports.com | November 2012


REAdING bETWEEN THE lINES ONE RAPIdS PlAyER JUST CAN’T PUT A bOOk dOWN When Colorado Rapids midfielder Jamie Smith walks into the Tattered Cover bookstore on the 16th Street Mall, the store’s workers know him by name, and it’s not necessarily because of his talents on the soccer field. The baristas at the nearby coffee shop know exactly what kind of java this bookstore regular likes, and every nook and cranny of the store has been explored by the veteran soccer player. Smith is a total bookworm. From science fiction to history to biographies, the Scot reads everything and anything, and he’s done so his entire (literate) life. Smith estimates he reads at least two hours a day and sometimes, on the night before a road game, he’ll read up to six or seven hours at a time. That’s why Smith and fellow midfielder Jeff Larentowicz are roommates on the road (“not lots of talking,” he says); they both can’t stop flipping pages. “(I read) as much as I can,” Smith says. “I do have Facebook, but I haven’t checked it for a while.” The 31-year-old midfielder has played in his native Scotland, the Netherlands and now Colorado (since 2009), but everywhere he’s been he’s used reading as a means to pass time away from the field. He lists Lord of the Rings as one of his favorite books, or trilogies, but he also remembers a book about the Bosnia-Serbia fighting that he read in the past year that also resonated with him. In fact, at this late-October photo shoot, Smith bought a used book (All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy) on his way out the door. Smith used to spend two or three days a week at the Tattered Cover when he first arrived with the Rapids in 2009, biding the time away from the field curled up in a chair, reading. Funny enough, Smith’s wife isn’t a reader. But he’s trying to get his three kids to be, and his 12-year-old daughter is already an avid reader like her dad. In the meantime, the proud father and midfielder is busy pursuing—and enjoying—his two primary passions, soccer and reading. “I think (reading) just comes natural,” Smith says. “I read at night time to try to fall asleep. I just enjoy reading.”

November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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1 Digs FEATURING THE WELCOMING HOME OF BRONCOs TIGHT END

JOEL DREESSEN

LOCATION:

PARkER, COLO.

Tour by Julie browman PHoToS by JaTHan CamPbell

1 – Joel Dreessen just very well may be living the American dream. Growing up in Ft. Morgan, , he helped the Mustangs win a 3A state championship in 1999. Then, at Colorado State University, he enjoyed a very successful career, leading his team to three bowl appearances. This year, through NFL free agency, he chose to leave a very good Houston Texans team and sign with his hometown Denver Broncos. Joel, his wife, Stacy, and their two-and-a-half-year old son, Dylan, love their Parker home. Just about 20 minutes away room the facility, the five-bedroom, six-bath, 5,900-square foot home is Joel’s getaway from the busy and demanding life of an NFL player. 2 – When it comes to the living room, “We spend 99 percent of our time here,” says Joel. The centerpiece of the room is a huge L-shaped couch perfect for watching one of the two channels always on the Dreessen’s television. Those two channels are the NFL Network and the Disney

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milehighsports.com | November 2012

Channel. The room has the perfect setup. Just to the right of the couch is a huge beanbag. With a smile on his face and a laugh in midair, this is where you’ll see Dylan occasionally vault from the end of the couch to the bag. Who needs an amusement park when you have this setup? 3 – In the living room, hanging up on the wall, is a sign that says, “Blessed.” Joel and Stacy both feel incredibly fortunate to end up back in Colorado, surrounded by family and friends. “We just feel so blessed to move here to Colorado, be back home and live in this house,” Stacy says. Joel and Stacy found their home in Parker, thanks to one of Joel’s best friends—Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Erik Pears, who played and lived with Joel at CSU and also lives in the neighborhood. One night, the three were having dinner together and Erik mentioned the house across the street was for sale. Quickly after that, the Dreessens bought the home.


2

4 – Part of the appeal of the Parker home is the outdoor space. The home itself sits on a couple of acres, but it’s the open space behind the house that the Dreessens felt strongly about. Because of the conservation easement, nothing can be built behind their home. This ensures the couple, “Will always have a view. We see everything out there, even mule deer and cattle.” 5 – The Dreessen’s kitchen fits the style of the house. While it’s a big home, it has a very comfortable feel. There’s no doubt who does the cooking in the house. “I’m the cook,” Stacy smiles. “Joel grills, but I wouldn’t say he cooks. He can make some good scrambled eggs, though.” 6 – Just to the left of the front entrance way is Joel’s office—a place to watch some film, but also a place to walk down Memory Lane. The shelves behind the desk are filled with helmets, awards and pictures from Joel’s playing days throughout the years. He has his helmet from his high school days at Fort Morgan, “Which I’m not sure I was supposed to keep,” and also from his first year in the league with the New York Jets. One of his prized possessions in his office is his MVP award from his time at CSU.

3

4

5

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November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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7

8

9 8

7 – Off to the right of the entryway is the Dreessen’s dining room. Although the room is not used a lot, the table serves as a reminder of Joel’s former home in Texas. “I like this table because it reminds me of a Texas barbeque joint.” Joel spent five seasons with the Houston Texans and enjoyed his time in the Lone Star State. As a matter of fact, the couple still has an 800-acre ranch near Amarillo. “Texas suited me well.” 8 – Joel can’t take credit for the couple’s serene and peaceful master bedroom. “Stacy did all of this. I have no idea how to do this stuff.” The room is decorated with wedding pictures, warm and neutral colors, and a TV. However, the couple doesn’t have a chance to enjoy it much. “Dylan falls asleep at about 8:45 p.m., we watch about 10 to 15 minutes of television, and then we are out by 9:00 p.m.” 9 – With his 5:10 a.m. wake up call, sleep is hard to come by at the Dreessen household— these days, even more so. Stacy and Joel had a baby girl in October. “I’m pumped to have a baby girl,” Joel grins. They named her kyla. “It’s really the only name we could agree on.” 10 – One of the benefits of having such a big backyard is the ability to get a little creative. “On my 30th birthday party, I made a minibaseball diamond outside and we had some stick ball games.” As far as his thoughts on turning 30? “I was sad,” he laughs. 11 – The downstairs is just as comfortable and welcoming as the upstairs, but there’s something in the basement that draws Joel to spend time there. “There’s this great icemaker; so when I’m icing my knee, I can sit and watch television,” he smiles.

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milehighsports.com | November 2012

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A SPORTS QUESTION FROM

A BEAUTIFUL GIRL

THE GIRL

Kaila EvEnoff

Age: 25 Occupation: Nanny and professional sports team dancer Favorite Team: Seattle Seahawks Favorite Athlete: Shannon Miller

THE QUESTION

Why arE thErE thrEE pEriods in hocKEy? Why not four pEriods or tWo halvEs liKE othEr sports? THE ANSWER there certainly is a randomness to “three,” isn’t there? and despite exhaustive research (Google, refresh. Google, re-enter, refresh), there isn’t a conclusive, historically factual answer. ¶ the biggest reason cited deals with the ice. the early days of hockey were relegated to a frozen pond. there weren’t any ice rinks, so when the ice began to get too choppy, the players would simply move to another area of the lake. But when hockey moved indoors, the need to “repair” or “flood” the ice became a key factor. it seemed that it generally took about 20 minutes to mess up the ice. ¶ once the ice needed repaired, a process called “flooding” would take place. prior to the invention of the Zamboni, this was a laborious task, involving a lot of manpower and plenty of time, as water was manually pushed around the rink. once the rink was frozen, play would resume. ¶ perhaps a 40-minute game seemed too short and 60 felt just right. or perhaps the boys repairing the ice said, “twice is plenty, eh?” But either way, the three-period game, which allowed for two separate sessions of ice repair, evolved. ¶ With that story in mind, there was one other, somewhat rhetorical, discussion that consistently popped up on the old internet: Why are basketball games four quarters, soccer games two halves, baseball games nine innings and boxing matches 15 rounds? it might be argued that hockey is no more random than any other game. - Ted Yhedri, MHSM senior editor

Photo by Jathan Campbell

@jathancphoto

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for more images of Kaila, log on to milehighsports.com


ticketS available Starting at $15 2012-13 SeaSon Schedule OCTOBER/NOVEMBER Mon 28

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ALL TIMES MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME. TIMES AND DATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

BRK

For more information visit Nuggets.com or call 303.53.HORSE

#3 Ty Lawson

Sun


Behind The Wheel | Presented By

SPEED, POWER BACK IN THE AND RELIABILITY TRENCHES Nuggets strength-and-conditioning coach Steve Hess has a motor that won’t stop | By Doug Ottewill

Broncos Ring of Famer Karl Mecklenburg attacks a new role

I K

By Doug Ottewill t’s 7:45 on a chilly Saturday morning in October and there are only two cars

parked in the “Players Only” lot on the north end of Pepsi Center. One of the cars is a sleek, black Audi RS4 convertible. The top is up and the motor has beenisshut someIt’stime The car belongs to Steve arl Mecklenburg a lotdown like thefor carquite he drives. a big,now. slightly-worn Chevy Suburban. Hess, the 16-year strength-and-conditioning for the“And Nuggets, andhad it’s to almost “About 160,000 miles,” Mecklenburg says proudly. I’ve never get it always theIt first onetoinwhere the lot. fixed. gets me I want to go – reliably. This thing has really hung in there.” There are only days before DenverDuring tips offa its season and Hess has arrived Mecklenburg was11like that as a player. dozen seasons, and despite early inone preparation for apositions workouton with Iguodala, who the coach playing of the toughest the Andre gridiron, the linebacker missed justsays 11 “always gets in first workout.” games during histhe professional career. During that same span, Mecklenburg earned again, six an times. early start is nothing new1983 for draft Hess.hung To say that and he goes Pro Then Bowl honors The 310th pick of the in there from sun got up his to sun be selling short. Stories Hess’ days are ultimately teamdown wherewould it wanted to go –him reliably – for moreofthan a decade. legendary. are from 5:00 professional a.m. wakeup callsfollowing followedtheby1994 an season, hour ofhecardio. A And whenThere he retired football remained workout routine planned andDenver; ready for one himself of the Nuggets playersofready reliable. Mecklenburg never left he every immersed into the fabric the by 7:00 a.m. meetings by He hours in the gym. At lunch, he community thatMorning once cheered for himfollowed on Sundays. got involved with youth groups, works out again. At 11:00 p.m., aftercauses a full such day’saswork and a home game, it’s back speaking engagements and important his REACH Foundation, which boasts reading and support program kidsit’s in back Denver Schools. He wrote a to theabike. Another hour of cardio.for Then, to Public the weights. Bedtime is at book Heart if of he’s a Student 1:00 called a.m.–12:30 lucky.Athlete: All Pro Advice for Competitors and Their Families. theseitdays, he’s constantly on the go; Mecklenburg is widely regarded Then,And he does all again. as one the region’s finest motivational speakers. There’s a reason that Hess is widely considered to be the best strength-and-

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conditioning coach in the NBA—some say in all of sports. As his schedule might indicate, he’s simply relentless. But it’s his tenacious nature, paired with a deep knowledge of fitness and nutrition, that makes him the best. When former Denver Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler battled injuries and didn’t like the training program he’d been given at Dove Valley, he sought out Hess. It didn’t matter that Hess typically trained basketball players and Scheffler was a football player. Word on the street was that Hess could train anyone, making them bigger, faster and stronger. The

season that followed saw a healthy Scheffler from start to finish; in the process, he posted some of his best numbers as a pro. Hess is also the owner of the Forza Fitness and Performance Club on 18th Street in Denver. He put the same care and know-how into designing his club that he used to build the Nuggets workout facility. The Nuggets asked, “What do we need?” Hess answered by constructing one of the most technically advanced weight rooms in all of basketball. At times, he’ll take players over to Forza for additional, specialized workouts. But to understand Hess, and perhaps why

he’s so effective, one only needs to spend a short amount of time with him. Within minutes, one thing is apparent: Hess has incredible attention to detail. Take his diet for example. He leaves each morning with two coolers of food—all of it natural and homemade, and weighed out to the exact ounce. One cooler has protein. The other has carbs. He’s also got plenty of supplements. He eats at 1.5-hour intervals all day long; it’s a constant fueling of his body, all designed for energy efficiency and maximum metabolism. His car is another example. “I’m so f l ippi ng a na l retent ive ,” he November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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chuckles, looking over the spotless RS4. “It’s never dirty. I can’t stand for it to be dirty.” He credits his wife, Alecia, for finding the “perfect car”—one he says is 100 percent factory, never having anything added to the car’s original state. Hess says Alecia has incredible patience, a quality he admits he doesn’t necessarily possess. But his propensity to keep things neat shines through. The car is a 54 52

“Having the veteran guys – the guys the run. So, he’s got some things to learn, who have been there and done that – who but he’s so gifted from a quickness have been successful, I don’t think you can standpoint and he does some things you go wrong with that. They’ve really opened don’t see rookies do very often.” the doors. You see Terrell Davis down Mecklenburg’s eyes light up when he talks about the Broncos pass rushers. But there. You see Ed McCaffrey down there. You see Rod Smith. That, in the past few he loves the upside and willingness to learn displayed by rookie Derek Wolfe, too. years, hasn’t really been an option – or at least it’s not something they encouraged. “They’re the type of guys that Jack It’s nice to be wanted back down there.” Del Rio wants in his defense. The Like his trusty Suburban, Mecklenburg’s Broncos, through the years, have done a travels have always led him back home. lot of different styles of defense, but this But now, he’s more than just a Bronco; he’s is really the style that’s going to be, and back in the trenches. continues to be, effective in the NFL. It’s For more information, or to book Karl big guys, pushing the pocket, just Mecklenburg for your next speaking running over people, and then those engagement, visit www.KarlMecklenburg. quick guys on the outside. You’ve got a com or www.KarlMecklenburg.net defensive front now that people have to worry about.” There’s an inner-football player still inside No. 77; it’s plain as day. “I’m glad theyjust allowdriven me to off go down “Is that it?” he asks. “That’s all you need?” 2008, but it looks like it was the there,” says Mecklenburg. “Really the Yep. All over. And it’s onto the rest of Hess’ day. showroom floor. From so “Good deal. Love it! Love it!” he says in Hess spinsconstant the caris John into Elway. the center of many the directions, he’shave reallyitschanged that typical, high-spirited fashion. “I’ve got to head parking lot, priming it to photo taken. Forpoints a long out time,a that front inside and work out Iguodala. He opens theorganization. door, hops up, few of office wasand “Love with thattoday! guy. He works so his favorite features then posespeople, alongside great business but they Grabworking YOUR GO Guide I love guy works hard.” the vehicle. weren’t great football people. I think you hard.Look forathe GOwho Guide at many Walmart Fittingly, scurries back A few other cars startthat to filter into thetolot. need to have combination really and King Hess Soopers and other retailinside and Pepsi restaurant locations. Center, a full day in front of him. Andre Miller.make Evandecisions Fournier. A few coaches. based on football.

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BEST OF MILE HIGH SPORTS

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BOLD IN GOLD

The Nuggets set their sights atop the West | By Doug Ottewill Shop 24 hours a day at www.AFWonline.com or visit any of our 11 locations.

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“I

think we’re the best team in the West.” Hey now! That’s how to start off a season.

Nuggets guard Ty Lawson is the man who uttered those words—just yesterday in fact. And he didn’t backpedal, either. He stood there in front of a crowd of media types, proudly donning the Nuggets new “retro gold” alternate jerseys, and didn’t think twice. “You can’t just game-plan for one person on this team,” Lawson continued confidently. “I think we’ll be No. 1 in the West.” Yep. You heard it right. Bold in gold. Conventional wisdom says: Oklahoma City No. 1, Lakers No. 2 (or flip-flop them if you truly believe Dwight Howard is more than a broad-shouldered, malcontent), Nuggets three, possibly four, at worst five. Lawson says: “One.” And I like it. Can they really be that good, though? That’s a tall order. Vegas doesn’t buy into what Lawson is saying; Sin City is giving 20:1 odds on the Nuggets winning the West—the same as Dallas, behind Memphis and the Clippers (both 15:1), San Antonio (6:1); OKC (9:4) and the Lakers (6:5). But with a break here or there, the Nuggets can be in the mix; no doubt. Last year, when Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL, the Bulls odds of winning an NBA title shifted from 4:1 to 12:1—instantly. Nobody likes to talk about injuries, but they’re a reality in the NBA. If the Nuggets are hanging around the top of the standings, they’ve got a shot.

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Besides, even if the West stays healthy from top to bottom (a would-be-first in the history of basketball) the Nuggets are good enough to vie for a conference title anyway. As Lawson suggests, they’re deep. They’re young, but emerging, and their ceiling is somewhat of a mystery. Lawson showed he could be a star in last year’s playoffs. Newly acquired two-guard and defensive stopper Andre Iguodala is a star. And JaVale McGee, who comes in bigger and smoother (McGee looks like he’s gained about 15 pounds of muscle and he spent the entire summer working out with the game’s silkiest big man, Hakeem Olajuwon), is the ultimate X-factor. Lawson isn’t crazy. Of course, any team—from the Miami Heat to the Dallas Mavericks—needs a little magic along the way. It’s an ingredient nobody can predict, especially on October 1. The Nuggets may very well have some of that, too. Let me explain. Aside from liking Lawson’s confidence, I love the Nuggets’ new gold uniforms, a vision that plenty of folks in the know attribute to team president and governor Josh Kroenke. The alternate home duds are bright and bold (like Lawson), yet give an appropriate nod to the past. But history suggests that a new look can actually mean more than just must-buy apparel for fans. In Denver specifically, there are plenty of


examples of new laundry yielding new wins. No sooner than the Quebec Nordiques traded their odd little igloo for the “A” of Colorado, they were hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. When the Denver Broncos switched from their ‘60s-inspired orange uniforms to a primarily navy look that featured a fierce and modern Bronco, the franchise claimed its first Super Bowl. And then another.

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In 1974, when Denver’s ABA franchise switched from being the Rockets to the Nuggets (and changed its uniforms accordingly), the team surged from 37 wins in ’73-‘74, to 65 wins in ’74-’75 (a 334-point winning percentage improvement). In 1981, when the Nuggets opted for the nowfamous “rainbow” jerseys, newly hired Doug Moe and his team posted nine more wins and earned a spot in the NBA playoffs. After 13 seasons in the ‘bows, Denver again switched things up, going with a regal navy, scarlet and gold look, while ditching the skyline and mountain logo. Like clockwork, they improved, earning a trip to the postseason for the first time in four years. The ’93-’94 Nuggets also became the first team in NBA history to pull off the 8-versus-1 upset in the playoffs. The navy-and-red uniforms lasted a decade until general manager Kiki Vandeweghe switched things up by going with baby blue and gold in 2003. Whether it was the new unis or a kid named Carmelo Anthony, Denver surged to the postseason, ending an eight–year drought. Which brings us to Ty Lawson—all 5-foot-11 of him, grinning from ear to ear in his fancy new threads, looking like he just read this column. “We’re No. 1” History tells us it’s not as preposterous as it may sound. And the Nuggets are going to be a damn good team. Maybe Lawson is right. He’s definitely bold in gold.

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DECODING D-TOWN

AWARD G N WINNIAST

F BREAK RITOS

BUR DAY! L L A D E

SERV

1977

The best year of my life | By D-Mac 1977 was the best year in the history of the Broncos. There will never be another year like it. When I was in third grade, we didn’t have gym class. In third grade, we didn’t spend the entire school day in a classroom. In third grade, I learned how to do the most important things in my life today. In third grade, I learned how to ski. I learned how to ski in Colorado.

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Mrs. Stanko’s Steamboat Springs Elementary School third grade class was divided. Those who skied left school at 1:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Those that didn’t ski, well, frankly, I have no idea what those kids did. Maybe those kids kept gym teachers employed. The vast majority of third graders, as well as most of the entire elementary school, would pile onto awaiting buses with all of our ski gear and make the short drive to the base of Mount Werner. We would break off into small groups with our private instructor and rip up the mountain. Our parents didn’t pay an extra red cent for this. If you had a season pass—and season passes for locals were 60 bucks for the year—you had a world-class mountain at your disposal. Our three R’s were Reading, ‘Riting and Riding. My Uncle Bob skied in the World Cup. He was so determined to race that he created the Irish Ski team in the ‘70s. Now, he is in his 70s and has been the top East Coast racer in his age division for more than a decade. My dad proposed to my mom at the top of a lift at Stowe, carefully dropping the ring into the flakes for her to discover. 56

milehighsports.com | november 2012

My brother raced in high school and at the University of Pennsylvania. His kids both race competitively now. They train in the summer at Mount Hood and spend their Thanksgivings training at Copper where every year we have a bit of a reunion because my uncle, who, again, is in his 70s, trains there too over Turkey Day. My wife had never skied before I met her. I taught her the basics in college, and she can fly up and down any mountain now with ease. My kids were skiing black diamond runs when they were seven. In fact, my youngest was an expert skier, gave it up and got back on the bunny trails to learn how to snowboard and now can do both equally well. He is 10. We are the McKees, but we could easily be called the McSkis. My dad wanted to be the next Hunter Thompson. He failed. It was hard. His books weren’t published. His dreams were crushed. He was my hero. I didn’t understand why we had to move from an idyllic suburban lifestyle in Massachusetts to some bizarre western outpost. I didn’t want to leave my friends and family. I threw rocks at the “For Sale” sign in our front yard. When we piled into the beat-up Cougar to drive across the country, it was done so with tear-stained cheeks. It was the best midlife crisis I ever went through. Steamboat in 1977 was much different than it is today. There were no fancy hotels. There wasn’t a subdivision built around the base of the mountain. The condo where


we lived stood out like a beacon just a stone’s throw away from the Christie II lift. Now, it can barely be seen through the sudden upspring of buildings. However, the mountain itself has barely changed. There is a backside and a few more highspeed lifts, but the snow is the same; the blue sky is the same; the torrential flurries that provide the champagne powder are the same. Life as a skier, beautifully, stands still. In 1977, the Broncos went to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history. It was my one and only year of living in Colorado as a kid. Sundays were spent

SundayS were Spent in the church of Snow and then we worShipped at the altar of craig Morton. red Miller waS an ethereal character. toM JackSon and randy gradiShar were SuperheroeS.

at the top of Loveland Pass and hitched to the top. He hasn’t ridden in a Cat in Keystone and Copper to ride snow as one would ride a gentle wave. He hasn’t taken a deep breath at the top of the China Bowl while choosing one of the endless lines to descend. Manning has the wealth of kings, but has his heart soared while screaming down Whale’s Tail at Breck or burning up the calories busting the bumps at Mary Jane? No. Can watching an elite QB match the thrill of flying down Birds of Prey or passing a sign near the Teocalli Bowl warning skiers that you are basically screwed if you don’t know what you are doing? Can watching Manning eviscerate defenses match calling your kid “dude” as he blows past you on Rudi’s Run? If we are lucky this month, we won’t have to choose. As Coloradoans, as members of the ski and the football community, let’s embrace 1977. And this year. Let’s do both.

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in the church of snow and then we worshipped at the altar of Craig Morton. Red Miller was an ethereal character. Tom Jackson and Randy Gradishar were superheroes. If I ever had chance to meet Haven Moses, I would’ve peed my little pants. All I really wanted to do was watch the Broncos. My folks would have to push me out the door to get on the slopes, reminding me constantly we had hours to ski before kickoff. Ironically, now, I’m around the Broncos almost every day and all I really want to do is go skiing.

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When Peyton Manning said he hadn’t explored the state other than driving too and from Dove Valley, I felt sorry for him. To live in the gilded cage of Cherry Hills Village is a torture. The scenery of car dealerships that dot Arapahoe Road pales in comparison to aspen trees buried in white powder.

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I appreciate Manning’s devoted focus to football, but then again, he’s never done the heart-racing hike to the top of the Highlands Bowl. He’s never dropped in november 2012 | milehighsports.com

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Taylor Branch

CALLING IT LIKE HE SEES IT

Taylor Branch calls the NCAA onto the carpet | By Ken Reed

T

aylor Branch, a well-known civil rights and presidential historian, rocked the college sports community several months ago with his extremely thorough feature article on college sports in The Atlantic called “The Shame of College Sports.”

Branch’s curiosity about why the NCAA seems to always be in perpetual scandal led him to conduct a survey history of college sports. In his Atlantic article, he attacks the structure of big-time college sports and makes the case for paying college athletes. It’s a compelling read, one that I highly recommend. I recently was fortunate enough to have a few minutes to interview Branch.

financial infighting. The big schools resent the money from March Madness that’s paid to the smaller schools.

Do you think the plight of college athletes today is a civil rights issue?

“If you tell Ohio State you can’t be on TV, you’re talking about millions of dollars. Ohio State and the Big Ten wouldn’t stand for it. Most of the harsh penalties today fall on the players, not the schools.”

“It’s definitely a civil rights issue. The governance of college sports is a civil rights issue because the athletes are citizens and are being denied their rights by what amounts to collusion. Colleges are telling football and basketball players they can’t get anything above a college scholarship. The athletes are being conned out of their rights. We need modern abolitionists to fight this unjust and unstable system.” What are your thoughts on the NCAA? “The NCAA’s amateur ideals are contrived. The NCAA is unstable and unbalanced in a number of respects. They represent about 1,200 schools, but all their attention is on the big BCS schools. The NCAA is divided between the big-time football and basketball programs and everyone else. There’s a lot of 58

milehighsports.com | november 2012

“In terms of rules violations, the NCAA’s enforcement with the big schools is getting weaker and weaker because the NCAA is afraid the big-time conferences and schools will leave and form their own organization.

When it comes to the challenge of college sports reform, where do we start? “There are a lot of issues concerning the governance of college sports. Who are the stakeholders? What are their rights? Who’s stepping up to their responsibilities? “If we start by recognizing everyone’s rights, we can reform things fairly in college sports. We can’t deprive athletes of their rights, including the right to earn a livelihood. This whole issue of the rights of college athletes is sitting there as the elephant in the room whenever the subject of college sports reform is brought up. My primary concern is the basic rights of these athletes.”


they are hypocrites, especially when they use the term ‘studentathlete’ to try and protect their idea of amateurism.

“I think it’s fundamentally dishonest the way the NCAA and these schools have taken advantage of athletes in college.

You believe college athletes have the right to seek pay for their services.

If the big BCS schools start paying bigtime football and men’s basketball players, what will happen to the rest of Division I schools?

“Absolutely. College athletes are both athletes and students. They have every right to seek pay as athletes. If college athletes were at the decision-making table regarding how to run sports, along with administrators and faculty, we might have a more honest debate on the value of athletes to a university. “My basic belief is that players have rights to seek player compensation. They have the right to bargain for their own livelihood. There needs to be a players’ association. Student government structures could provide a model.” Do you see the NCAA, and its member institutions, as hypocrites when it comes to college sports? “Absolutely, they are hypocrites, especially when they use the term ‘student-athlete’ to try and protect their idea of amateurism. I think it’s fundamentally dishonest the way the NCAA and these schools have taken advantage of athletes in college.”

“It seems to me we have to separate the student function and the athlete function, instead of fusing the two together. ‘Studentathlete’ is such a dangerous confection. They are both students and athletes. To be either a student or an athlete in a good school is demanding. To do both well is a remarkable achievement.”

“If universities have an honest discussion about college sports—with players, faculty, administrators and board members at the table—it might lead to the de-emphasis of athletics at some schools. If some universities can’t keep up the pace at the highest level, they can de-emphasize sports. “It could lead to a reexamination of the role of sports in colleges. What are our priorities as a society? In some respects, sports have become more important than higher education. How much do we want sports to dominate what happens at our colleges and universities?” Do you see the BCS conferences separating from the NCAA at some point? “I think the big BCS schools separating from the NCAA will ultimately happen. It will lead to some type of national association of big-time college sports programs.”

FIVE QUESTIONS, FIVE ANSWERS

1

Who do you think is more important in baseball, the field manager or the general manager? The GM for sure. Did you see the miracle Billy Beane pulled off in Oakland? The A’s made the playoffs with five ROOKIE starting pitchers. Beane picked up some cheap free agents (e.g., Brandon Moss, a minor league free agent) that played great. He signed Yoenis Cespedes from Cuba (thinking outside the box again). They had the lowest payroll in the AL and eliminated the Angels, whose payroll is six gazillion dollars. Bob Melvin did a nice job as their manager, but the GM puts the squad together. 

2

i take it you’re not a big fan of dan o’doWd. Uh, no. Fire him as GM and let him become a meteorologist. He seems to be fascinated with the altitude in Denver.

3

if dexter foWler is traded, can eric young, Jr. play centerfield? I love EY, but centerfield is too important to give to an average outfielder with a below average arm.

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4

Will JaVale mcgee be a breakout star or an expensiVe bust? I love the guy’s talent, but teams—especially the Washington Wizards—don’t give up on mega-talents without a good reason. I think the six inches between his ears will prevent him from ever becoming a star.

5

hoW far do the nuggets go in the playoffs? This is a very solid team. I think they finish fourth in the West, win a first-round series and then lose. But, I love what Masai Ujiri is doing with this team.

november 2012 | milehighsports.com

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STRAIGHT FROM THE

HORSE’S MOUTH CaTCHing up wiTH a DEnvER spORTs lEgEnD

THE MILE HIGH INTERVIEW

DAN ISSEL Interview by Woody Paige; Foreword by James Merilatt

H

e’s one of the greatest basketball players in history—a legend at both the college and pro levels. And he’s among the finest athletes to ever call Denver home, one of four players to have his number retired by the Nuggets. He’s also a former radio and TV broadcaster in the Mile High City, making him even more beloved by the fans. And he was a coach who

had two stints leading the city’s NBA team, guiding them to one of the most memorable playoff victories in NBA history—an eight-over-one series win in 1994. In recent years, however, times have been tougher. He resigned from his post with the Nuggets in disgrace and watched his business interests crumble, causing him to disappear from the public eye and leave his adopted hometown.

Now, he’s flourishing in a totally new role, serving as the executive director of administration at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in southern California. There, he’s beginning the latest chapter in his complex and accomplished life. He’s seen the good. He’s seen the bad. And he’s able to reflect upon both of them. He’s this month’s Mile High Interview—Dan Issel.

November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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At 64 years old, do you feel like you’re in a good place for the first time in a while after a lot of trials and tribulations? How would you characterize where you are in your life right now? I think I’m in a great place. I’m doing a job that I enjoy; it’s a job where I feel like I’m making a difference. I’m working with people who I enjoy being with. For me, at this age, I think it’s the perfect place for me to be.

told the scars and the great moments from your career. It was a little intimidating, for sure. When I played basketball in front of people, I felt a little better equipped than I did speaking in front of the church. There was a healing process that went on. I’m sure that I got a lot more out of it than the people who were listening. After it was over, I was very glad that I had done it.

You were a major part of forming what became a mega-church in the Denver area with more than 5,000 members. How difficult of a decision was it to get involved in church work on a full-time basis? The first meeting that we had for Colorado Community Church, there were 44 people in attendance. I remember that because of my number. That grew to more than 5,000 people at one point. To be fair, my job here is more as the business manager of the church. They did let me up to the pulpit once, but they didn’t invite me back a second time. It’s more dealing with the finances and the personnel issues of the church. It’s not unlike any other organization that I’ve worked for.

In regard to that, do you think people might be surprised that your career path led in the direction of administration work at a church? Those who sat close to the bench at Pepsi Center when I was coaching would be somewhat surprised. (Laughs) I don’t speak quite the same here at the church. I don’t know. Although I certainly wasn’t a Tim Tebow in professing my faith, I think a lot of people knew that I was a Christian. So I don’t think a lot of people would be shocked.

Mark Brewer was the senior pastor here at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church. I believe the two of you started Colorado Community Church. Is that how the two of you met? When we came back to Denver in 1988 to go to work for the Nuggets, it was Jane Moe who actually said we needed to go hear Brewer. We went to Cherry Creek—I don’t think I’d ever been in a Presbyterian church—heard Mark and decided that’s where we wanted to worship. We then became friends with Mark, and knew him and Carolyn well. They left Cherry Creek and went to Detroit to be the pastor at Ward Presbyterian Church. He came back from Detroit after just one year. At that point, (my wife) Cheri and I, and two other families, helped Mark get started with Colorado Community Church. Now you’re with him at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. When did you start there? Mark has been here for 12 years. He left Colorado Community Church when I was still on the board there at that time. I’ve been here for a little over two years; I came here on June 14, 2010. UCLA head coach Ben Howland has been one of your supporters since you joined the church. For people in Colorado who haven’t seen your testimony, which is very awe-inspiring, it includes some taped segments from Kim Hughes, who played here and was an assistant coach here, Mike Shanahan and some of your other friends. I was very impressed with what Mike Shanahan said about you. If anyone wants to see that, they can go to the church web site and see the testimony. How difficult was it for you—you’ve played in front of 25,000 people—to get up in front of the church like that and tell your story? You 62

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You didn’t wear your religion on your sleeve like, say, Bobby Jones did. You played alongside him for a number of years, and Bobby was very well known for being a very strong Christian. It seems to me that your faith was more inward or personal or within your circle of family and friends than it was public. Yeah, but I’m not proud of that. If I was doing it today, I would be more like a Bobby Jones or a Tim Tebow than the way that I was. There were probably some lost opportunities to show what my faith meant to me in those times. Tim Tebow is such a polarizing personality because he’s so strong in his personal beliefs and he’s not shy about professing them; that bothers a lot of people. How do you look at that from your standpoint? I certainly have no problem with it. If you’re a Christian, you’re called to witness. Now, the guy who stands outside the arena with the “John 3:16” sign and screams, “You’re all going to hell,” I don’t think that really helps the growth of Christianity. But somebody like Tim, who not only professes it but also lives that way, is a great example. No matter what you do, you’re never going to make everyone happy. But if you’re a Christian, you’re called to be a disciple and to show people how important your faith is. I don’t have a problem with it. If he polarizes some people, then he polarizes some people. You started playing basketball around the seventh grade. But when were you first exposed to the church and going on a regular basis? Forever. My parents had my brother and sister and I in Sunday school from the time we were baptized as infants. My grandmother was a great influence in that; if you weren’t in church on a Sunday morning, grandma was knocking on the door by noon,


wondering who was about to die. I grew up that way. I grew up in the church. I had great Christian influence in my life. You’re from Batavia, Illinois—a small community. Does it ever amaze you that you were able to reach such heights coming from such humble beginnings? The amazing thing is that when we lived in Batavia, the population was about 7,500. Not only did I get to the NBA and Kenny Anderson get to the NFL, about that same time there were two brothers by the name of Von Hoff; one was my age (Byron), he was

magazines at UK, and he’s just a tremendous kid, a really nice kid. So I was happy that he broke that record. But there are still a few of them there that will take a while to break. Are you staying involved in the game by being around the Lakers or the Clippers or the Bruins? Because Ben Howland is a member (at Bel Air Presbyterian Church), I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. So I go to UCLA games and have been to some practices. They’ve really been nice to me. I haven’t stayed as close to the pro game, although my grandson

I can’T REMEMbER TOO Many nIgHTS wHERE I cOUldn’T Say THaT I playEd aS HaRd aS I cOUld pOSSIbly play. the second-round draft choice of the Mets, and his brother, Bruce, was in the Houston Astros organization and made it to the majors. And we had a gal, Sharon Moran, who was on the LPGA. So for a little town of 7,500 people, it produced an unbelievable number of athletes during that time. Let’s shift gears. You’re one of only eight people who played in the NBA to finish his career with at least 20,000 points and 8,000 rebounds. The reason it hits me is because the Lakers have signed Antawn Jamison, who is in a position to join you guys. That is such a select circle. You finished your career as the league’s third all-time leading scorer, but people didn’t really think of you as a great rebounder. Is that accomplishment as memorable statistically as anything you did as a player? I guess so. The thing that amazes me is that after 40 years, I’m still the leading scorer and the leading rebounder at UK. I only got to play three years and now you can play four years. And there was no three-point line, although I don’t know that I would have shot beyond the line any way. That amazes me. Of course now with the one-and-done kids, that record might stand forever. I was very fortunate. I got to play 15 years. I never had a major injury. I can’t remember missing two games in a row. I guess if you get to play that long and play that many games, you’re going to put up those kinds of numbers. I remember that you had 53 points in a game at Kentucky that stood for a long time, as well. Yeah, Jodie (Meeks) broke it. I was watching that game on television and told Cheri at halftime, “I think Jodie is going to break the record.” The best thing that came out of that was that I got to meet him, they took a picture of us together that wound up on one of the

lives in the San Francisco area, so I go to a Warriors game on occasion. I got to talk to Jodie before a game up there. But I don’t stay too close to the professional game. In fact, the Retired Players Association just sent me an email because they’re having retired players give a two- or three-line synopsis of their former teams, but I had to email them back and say, “I couldn’t even name the Nuggets starting lineup. There has to be someone more qualified to comment on this year’s team than me.” Do you ever think about being a TV analyst again? The years that I was doing the color on the Nuggets broadcasts, that was probably the best job I’ve ever had. It certainly didn’t pay the most, but you got to sit right at half court, you got a free hot dog and Coke at halftime, and you didn’t really live and die with the outcomes of the games. If you have an opportunity to do that kind of work, that’s the best job you can have. You were great at that; you seemed like a natural. You were also doing talk radio; you and I worked at a station together. You slid into that naturally. I believe that because of the work you did on radio and TV, that’s what led to you being the general manager and coach of the Nuggets. You were so analytical, and you were right about the things you said. Looking back, do you think that was the transition into working for the organization? I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. Bernie Bickerstaff took a chance on me coaching the first time. How do you hire somebody as the head coach of an NBA team that has never coached a day in his life? I’m not talking just about in the NBA; I’m talking about junior high, high school or anyplace. I think it was Bernie listening to some of November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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my analysis of the team and that opened up that opportunity for me. What a great opportunity that was. That group of kids that I got to coach during those couple of years, when we made that run in the playoffs during the second year, that probably was— outside of winning the championship with the Kentucky Colonels—my most enjoyable moment in professional basketball. Speaking of moments in professional basketball, do you find it somewhat odd that you wound up back in L.A., where your final basket was a three-pointer at the Forum? That’s exactly where it was. One of my favorite stories is from after that game. My last shot in the NBA was a three-pointer and thankfully it went in, and they gave me the game ball. I took the ball home the next day and gave it to (my son) Scott, and said, “This is the ball that your dad made his last shot in the NBA with; it even says L.A. Lakers on it.” He took the ball, looked at it and looked at me, and said, “You mean that Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and Magic (Johnson) touched this ball?” He was much more impressed with that. Did you happen to mention to him that you started in an NBA All-Star Game ahead of Kareem? (Laughs). That was because of Bob King and all of the people he had stuffing the ballot box in Denver that year. I don’t think people remember that you, Bobby Jones and David Thompson all started in the NBA All-Star Game. I think they pulled you out after a minute or so. Kareem didn’t help matters much. Remember, that game was in Milwaukee and they loved Kareem. He conveniently forgot his Lakers warm-up jersey, so he wore a Milwaukee Bucks warm-up suit and the place went nuts. I was probably the least favorite NBA All-Star ever. You were an All-American at Kentucky You played in six ABA All-Star Games, and one more in the NBA. You have records that still stand in college. Your name is in the record books in the pros. Your jersey hangs in the rafters at Rupp Arena and Pepsi Center. Could you even fathom having that type of career? It was amazing. I say that very humbly because I wasn’t blessed with a great deal of physical ability; I certainly wasn’t the fastest and couldn’t jump the highest, but I think I had success because of the work ethic that was instilled in me by my parents at a young age. Some nights were good and some nights weren’t so good, but I can’t remember too many nights where I couldn’t say that I played as hard as I could possibly play. Those things are important the farther you get away from them; you realize that those are statistics and accomplishments that no one can take away from you. 64

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For those who may not remember, Kentucky sold you to a team—and I���m not sure you even got a jersey—called the Baltimore Claws for a half-million dollars. That team went defunct and you wound up in Denver, spending 10 years here. The first year in the NBA, you guys played Portland in the playoffs; they went on to win the championship. But after that series against you, Jack Ramsey said you guys were the best team they’d play in the postseason; that if they hadn’t won it, he thought you

yOU’RE lOOkIng aT a Man wHO dRafTEd RaEf lafREnTz aHEad Of VIncE caRTER and paUl pIERcE, SO I dOn’T knOw HOw gOOd I aM aT jUdgIng TalEnT. would have won it. You were talking about never being injured, but I remember both Mack Calvin and you had ankle sprains for that last game in Portland. In fact, I think that final game I had to take a painkilling shot in my foot to be able to play. I tell people that if David Thompson hadn’t had his problems, we’d be talking about him in the same breath as Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and the greats who ever played the game. I really believe we would have won some NBA championships if we’d been able to hold that team together. You spoke earlier about how special the times were during your first stint as the Nuggets coach. But the second time around, it really wasn’t the same. No. It was a 180-degree difference. We had a veteran club, and had a lot of injuries. I was in a personnel meeting the other day, talking about a staff member that I thought had an awful lot of untapped talent at the church, but I said, “You’re looking at a man who drafted Raef LaFrentz ahead of Vince Carter and Paul Pierce, so I don’t know how good at judging talent.” I don’t know how many people in the room got the reference, but the second time wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first time. You were frustrated and that led to the incident with the fan in December 2001 when you were heard uttering a racially insensitive remark. You used it in your


testimony at the church, saying that your temper got the better of you and you stepped out of character. I don’t know whether that led you to where you are today, but overall, it may have pushed you down that path. I don’t think there’s any question about it. If the camera hadn’t been there and captured that, I would have at least made it through the season; I doubt I would have coached after that. The circumstance of that camera being where it wasn’t supposed to be, it was never there before, and me reacting the way I reacted, there was a reason for all of that to come together. It was certainly time for both my good and the Denver Nuggets good that I depart at that time. You said earlier that you couldn’t name the Nuggets starting lineup, but they’ve assembled a team that reminds me a lot of what you guys did when you were with Larry Brown in the ABA and later in your career with Doug Moe when they brought in Fat Lever, Calvin Natt and Wayne Cooper. They don’t have a superstar now, but they have a lot of players who are good players; they’re very deep. This team reminds me a lot of when you were a team and not relying on one person. I think you hit it on the head. It’s a team sport. To be successful, you have to play as a team. This sounds corny, but you really have to care about one another. Winning the game has to be the No. 1 priority. If you don’t have those kinds of people, you may be successful in the short run but not over the long term. You had the incident, which forced you to resign. You then went through bankruptcy after that. For a guy who had all of the accolades, glory and a great deal of money, that had to be tough. Bill Daniels once told me that you don’t really appreciate success and having financial wherewithal until you lose it all. Do you think you have a better appreciation for what you’ve accomplished in your life because you’ve gone through some serious issues? What I have is a real appreciation for are the friends that I still have through all of this. And as I get older, my family is so much more important. I have a nine-year-old grandson who I just saw with a fourth-grade basketball tournament and I wouldn’t have traded seeing that for a million dollars. Because of everything I’ve been through, and because of my faith, I think I have everything in pretty good perspective right now. You and Cheri have been married more than 40 years. How do you think you were able to hold that together? The day we got married, the pastor gave us some great advice; he said, “Keep your faith together.” I would have to say that’s the No. 1 reason. The No. 2 reason is that Cheri has never been judgmental. I made some awful investment decisions to get us to the place we wound up; she could have said on a number of occasions, “What were you thinking,

idiot?” And she never said it once. Those were the two main reasons. You ran the gamut of having played for everyone from Adolph Rupp to Larry Brown to Hubie Brown to Doug Moe. I assume that has to be a mark of your career and your life that has to be meaningful. I learned something from each one of them. Coach Rupp was a stern disciplinarian and instilled a work ethic in you that was unbelievable. Hubie was the best game-time coach I ever played for; he was so far ahead of the game in terms of keeping stats and things like that. Larry was the best teacher; he was so much more valuable to the team on practice days than game days. And of course, Doug was able to turn it off and turn it on; you didn’t take yourself too seriously, until the game started. I was really blessed to play for some great coaches. Speaking of blessed. What struck me very strongly was your favorite Biblical quote about being gentle. I think it’s something we could all learn from. Why does that mean so much to you? It’s Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Don’t be anxious about anything. But with prayer and petition, present your requests to the Lord and He will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding.” The thing that is important to me is that this is so counter to what the world teaches you. The world says that you have to be tough and can’t let people take advantage of you. But Paul says to the Philippians, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” And it doesn’t ever say that Christians won’t have problems or that life won’t be hard. But what it does say is that God will never take you where his peace can’t sustain you. And the key to that seems to be that Dan Issel has found peace. Is Dan Issel at peace with himself? No question about it. November 2012 | milehighsports.com

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first time I saw Neil Devlin, he was hurrying along behind press row at the recently opened McNichols Arena. The 4:00 game had already started and he had missed the tip-off. A statuesque—more than six-foot—brunette (Holly, who would become his wife) followed in his wake. They looked like they would be more at home at Woodstock than the State High School Basketball Tournament. But first impressions can be deceiving. Thirty-three years later, it’s hard to imagine a state tournament without Neil Devlin. You’ve seen him. At dark gyms, in cramped press boxes. On the sidelines. Checking the book at the scorer’s table. In Aurora, the Thunderdome, All City Field, Jeffco Stadium, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, Limon, Burlington, Akron, Idalia. Long—not stylishly long, just over-the-collar long—cornsilk brown hair, full, once-trimmed stash, Phillies hat, mirror shades. No longer late to the party. Now a part of the scene. A fixture. But appearances, like first impressions, can be deceiving, as well. You might think that a 55-year-old writer, a transplant from Phoenixville, Penn., where he where he was a three-sport athlete at St. Pius X, still covering high school sports might be one of those guys who never let go of his own high school years. Still reliving the dream we all evoke in a glowing haze as the four best years of our lives. Still a kid who never grew up. And you would be wrong. Mostly. Neil Devlin is the most objective and consistent sports journalist I’ve seen in my 35 years of coaching. He’s always been fair to the kids at East High School; Neil’s a blessing to this community. - Rudy Carey, second to Dick Katte in all-time Colorado high school coaching wins; winner of eight state CHSAA titles—three at Manual (1988, 90, 91), five at East (1996, 99, 2004, 07, 08)

Jon Yunt, who has worked under Neil as a “full part-time” prep sportswriter for the past 22 years, knows him perhaps as well as anyone in the newspaper world, knowledge gained through hundreds of midnight phone conversations with his boss during most nights of the high school sports season.

one of the Darlings’ children from J.M. Barie’s fanciful children’s book. If Neil and Holly, a six-time state champion breaststroker and medley relay swimmer for Cherry Creek High School, were Peter Pan and Tinker Bell heading into their married life, that all changed with the arrival of Ryan.

“He has a little bit of the Peter Pan Syndrome going on; he hangs onto his childhood,” says Yunt. “He loves The Simpsons and Led Zeppelin. But Neil has a great perspective on life. His son, Ryan, provides that for him. He forced him to grow up.”

Neil Devlin has a genuine interest in high school sports and a great recognition of what it takes to be a good high school athlete. - Irv Moss, Denver Post sportswriter and former prep editor

Ah, yes, Ryan. Neil and Holly’s older son, a 6-foot, 29-year-old Cubs and Flyers fanatic with an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and hockey. He lives at home. Loves The Price is Right and his job four hours a day at Best Buy in Aurora. He won a gold medal in golf with his dad at the Special Olympics in Pueblo last year. He’s a frequent sidekick of Neil’s at Coors Field, Pepsi Center and high school gyms. The subject of my favorite Neil Devlin piece (and there’s been a lot of them because the college drop-out writes lean but highly edible prose) was a Father’s Day tribute to a very special son that ran in the Denver Post Magazine in 1993.

Fast forward to a rainy late-September night at Coors Field where Ryan is sitting in the front-row, behind-home-plate seats that his grandparents gave him for his birthday so that he could see his beloved Cubs battle it out with the hapless Rockies for the distinction of being the third-worst team in MLB 2012.

In that piece, Neil talked about Ryan’s premature birth, how he weighed in at two pounds two ounces, was only 13 inches long and had numerous complications that led to his nearblindness and his autism. He certainly wasn’t

Ryan, who’s listening on earphones to the KOA broadcast but takes them off when asked a question, says, “Josh Vitters,” in response to a request for the name of the Cubbies third baseman who’s hitting .111 in 30-something games.

Neil looks out at the scoreboard and says, “I’m a baseball fan and I know only three names in both lineups.” Holly says, “Give me a Blue Moon and a hot dog with cheese and tomato.”

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And then, with the Rox up 6-0, the clouds burst in the seventh inning, disappointing Ryan and sending him and his parents back to the bowels of the stadium. “When I come with my parents, we never leave early,” he says. “When I come with my group (“the Aurora handicapped folks”), they always leave after the fifth inning. I don’t like that.” He’s ready to wait out any length of rain delay. The thing I appreciate most about Neil is that he understands what high school sports are really all about. We are very fortunate to have Neil writing and representing our sports in this kind of a market. He Ensures that kids’ accomplishments are portrayed in a positive light. - Paul Angelico, CHSAA commissioner

While they’re waiting out the weather, an usher who knows what a baseball fan Ryan is goes into the umps dressing room and asks home plate umpire Jim Joyce to talk to Ryan. Joyce, recently famous for applying CPR to a Diamonbacks game-day employee who collapsed in a similar tunnel in Arizona this August and more famous for his handling of a 2010 missed call at first base that cost Detroit’s Armando Gallaraga a perfect game, engages Ryan (or is it the other way around, because Ryan’s smile, his immediately-recognizable intelligence and constant effort to practice what his speech therapist has taught him draw you in) in a 15-minute conversation that only two strangers who are baseball fanatics can have. He assures Ryan, who wants to see the full nine innings and a Cubs comeback, that he’ll be the first to know when the game will resume. And it will resume because this is the first time he’s ever had a rain delay in Denver. He promises to come out and tell Ryan, a promise he delivers on 45 minutes later. Flash back a month before the Cubs-Rox game (which went the full nine innings in the Rockies 6-0 win). Ryan is in the Aurora Medical Center, about to undergo a delicate surgery to save his good eye, which is producing pressure and excruciating pain. Neil’s a basket case before the operation and takes Ryan’s head in his hands and says to him, “Look at this face; don’t ever forget it.” What I love about Neil Devlin is that he’s not a climber and has stayed where his heart is. High school sports are the better for him. He calls a spade a spade, but would never hurt a kid. - Dick Katte, retired math teacher, Denver Christian High School

So the fact that a month later Ryan is watching the Cubs and peppering Jim Joyce with questions is a cause for celebration far beyond a happy family gathering. And it’s all part of the life perspective that Neil’s midnight phone partner Jon Yunt speaks about. And the point to the lengthy foray into Ryan Devlin’s world? Neil Devlin doesn’t take himself too seriously and certainly doesn’t share some kids’, coaches’ and parents’ concern that the outcome of a high school football game or the selection of an all-state team is a matter of life and death. He grew up a long time ago and knows the difference between Never Never Land and the real world. I got a call from him one day that went something like: “If you’re not busy, you need to go to Skyland because there’s a seventh grader kicking everyone’s ass in pick-up games. This kid’s gonna be the best high school player this state’s ever seen.” The kid, of course, was Chauncey Billups. Neil used to spend some of his idle time watching pickup games at Skyland Rec Center (now Hiawatha Davis), so he could keep up with the top prep ballers. [Author’s Note: Neil Devlin bought Chauncey his first Philly cheesesteak and forgave him for putting mayonnaise on it.] - Mike Monroe, NBA writer, Denver Post sportswriter 1970-2000, currently covering the Spurs for the San Antonio Express-News 68

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Neil’s Favorites Best Philly Athletes: Mike Schmidt, Bobby Clarke, Harold Jackson Best Philly Foods: South Philly cheesesteaks (white American onion, red sauce) and Tastykakes (Coconut juniors and lemon pie) Best Prep Athletes: Darnell McDonald, Cherry Creek; Abby Waner, Highlands Ranch; Shelly Pennefather, Machebeuf; Chauncey Billups, GW; Roy Halladay, Arvada West; Rhonda Blanford, Aurora Central; Greg Barnes, Columbine Best Coaches: Dick Katte, Denver Christian; Rudy Carey, Denver East; Warren Mitchell, Limon; Marc Johnson, Cherry Creek; Jim Danley, Eaton; Dave Logan, Cherry Creek; Andy Lowry, Columbine Best Prep Events: State baseball, state football, state basketball (in that order) Most Memorable Game: McDonald scores five TDs and rushes for 333 yards in 5A football final vs. Arvada West Worst Memory: Sitting with Kevin Land, Columbine athletic director, at a 1999 conference when Land received a call about the massacre at the school Best Venues: Denver Coliseum (“where they ought to hold the state basketball tournament”); Golddigger Stadium, Clear Creek (check it out on the north side heading up I-70); Aurora Public Schools Stadium (“and the press box guys”); All-City (baseball and football, “but where are the football fans?”); The Pit at Boulder High (“just a memory”); Thunderdome (“best place to spend a Saturday in February”); Dick Katte Athletic Center (“now that’s a family atmosphere”); East High Gym (“not too big, not too small, just right”); Akron; Limon; Idalia; Burlington… Worst Venues: Pueblo East; (“bandbox”); Grandview baseball field (“windy and severe slope in right”); Legacy Stadium (“always cold”); North High gym (“turn on the lights”) Best Mentors: Jim Herre, Tom Patterson, Irv Moss, Woody Paige Best Reporters: Jon Yunt, Brian Forves Best Aspect of High School Sports: Everybody gets to play Worst Aspect of High School Sports: Today’s parents; outside (club) coaches; kids who mimmick the worst of the pros Best Aspects of the Job: Meeting people, traveling Colorado Worst Aspects of the Job: Earlier deadlines Favorite Simpsons Character: Krusty the Clown Favorite Led Zeppelin Song: Gallows Pole Favorite Led Zeppelin lyric: “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now, it’s just a spring clean for the May queen.” - Stairway to Heaven Retirement?: Eventually. My time will come.


WOODY PAIGE on hiring

NEIL DEVLIN… “I was executive sports editor of The Post in the early 1990s when Bob Smith Sr., longtime prep editor, decided to retire. I wanted to hire someone who was (A) creative in his ideas, (B) enthusiastic and passionate about high school sports, (C) an excellent writer, (D) had a background in covering prep sports (D) a hard worker, (E) would want to take on a very difficult job of handling all the prep sports and would put more emphasis than before on young women’s sports and (F) a solid reporter and good guy. Neil Devlin possessed all those qualities. There was never consideration of giving the job to anyone else, although several people expressed interest in the job. The only setbacks for Neil were his undying love of Philadelphia sports teams and hair down to his shoulders. And I actually liked both.  “Those Philly fans are crazy, and the hair proved he was a rebel with or without a cause. I knew he was a great family man with one child with special needs who Neil was so proud of, and I couldn’t believe anyone would be more perfect for the job. It may have been one of the few times in my life I was completely right in my decisionmaking. Neil has exceeded all my expectations. He can handle a difficult and complicated prep story with perception and skill, and he can write the game story with speed and quality. What a good man. “Colorado is blessed to have as its No. 1 high school sports writer a man who cares so deeply and is so objective. I’m honored he’s my friend. When I called Neil into my office to tell him he was my choice, my only choice, he was thrilled – and cried. I lavished him with praise. That’s about all I could lavish him with. He asked, finally, if he got a raise. I told him that he would get a title, and, with our budget stuck, an extra week’s vacation.  He accepted. And The Post, its readers, the prep community, CHSAA and particularly the thousands of studentathletes in the state have been better off for more than 20 years. “I hope he finally got a raise.”

It’s not that Neil set out to be exclusively a high school reporter. When he first went to the Post, he covered some Broncos and some Rockies. He remembers that Jim Brown once hung up on him when he started asking him about Franco Harris approaching his then-NFL rushing record (Harris came up short, 12,120 yards to 12,312). Reggie Jackson walked away from him when he asked for a comment on Coors Field. Al Davis wouldn’t take his call. But the guy who really mattered, John Elway, would always talk to him, especially when Neil was writing about his son, Jack. “Jack was a great kid,” Neil recollects, “and a fierce competitor. But in his last game for Cherry Creek, he threw seven interceptions in a loss to Grandview. As I was leaving (Legacy), I ran into John. He just looked at me and said, ‘Been there.’” Coaches across the state trust him. He understands all facets of Colorado high school athletics, which is remarkable considering that he hails from Pennsylvania. - Duane Lewis, aka “The Shot Doctor,” 14-time letterman, Burlington H.S. 1956-60, career 64 percent field goal shooter, basketball coach at Alamosa and Alameda for 24 years, boys’ and girls’ golf coach at Alameda for 20 years

What Neil loves most about high school athletics is that they provide an opportunity for so many kids to participate and develop as people. He loved watching his younger son, 6-foot-5 Rory (four years Ryan’s junior), play defensive end and pitch and play first base for 70

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Smoky Hill High School before going on to a strong academic and rugby career at Creighton University then DU law school. Rory is also a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve and will be a JAG when he passes the Colorado bar exam this October. The student-athletes of 2012 are lucky to have Neil Devlin in their corner. At a time when so many large newspapers are de-emphasizing prep sports, Neil Devlin keeps pushing and reminding us all of what prep sports means to our communities. He is a consummate professional who practices his craft with care and accuracy. - Bert Borgmann, CHSAA assistant commissioner

And Neil doesn’t mind being “sort of famous.” He still likes to see his byline in the paper. He still likes it when a stranger comes up to him in the steam room at the health club and says, “So who’s gonna win that Cherry Creek-Mullen game?” He appreciates where he is today after dropping out of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, getting his United Rubber Workers union card and working for a couple of years making BF Goodrich radials in order to save enough money to move out West. He likes that he doesn’t have to talk to famous prima donna athletes and owners any more. Today, there’s not a coach or athlete in the state who doesn’t know his name, who doesn’t recognize his unruly mane and wandering mustache. They’ll always take his call and never hang up on him.


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Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day Tribute

SOLDIER

Soldier: Nathan Engel Age: 29 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Sergeant (E-5) Duties: Sgt. Engel is a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program and a High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System crew member. Soldier: Joseph S. Betterman Age: 28 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Private First Class (E-3) Duties: Pfc. Betterman is a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program and motor-transport operator.

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ATHLETE


Veterans’ Day Tribute

SOLDIER

ATHLETE

Athlete: Nathan Engel Athletic Event: Greco Roman Wrestling Athletic Highlights: Engle qualified at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, he has competed on the national and international stage for the past seven years. During that time, he finished in the top five at multiple events, including the 2009 Pan American Games, the 2007 New York Athletic Club Holiday International and more. “My father was a wrestling coach and I started competing at the age of 8. I realized I wasn’t going to be playing in the NFL or MLB, so I stuck with wrestling.” Athlete: Joseph S. Betterman Athletic Event: Greco Roman Wrestling Athletic Highlights: Betterman was a member of both the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic team, he has enjoyed a dominant career on the mat. He has nearly 20 championships to his name in international competition, making him one of the most decorated wrestlers in the sport. “I started wrestling my freshman year in high school when I was only 70 pounds. I saw it as a challenge and a chance to compete in a one-on-one sport.”

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Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day Tribute

AIRMAN Airman: James Lawrence Age: 44 Branch: Air National Guard Rank: Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) Duties: Lt. Col. Lawrence is a C-21 (Learjet) evaluator pilot and assistant director of operations for the 200th Airlift Squadron.

The Colorado National Guard has a long history of taking everyday citizens and molding them into both heroes and athletes. As citizen-soldiers and -airmen, our organization embraces the individual passions of each service member and provides training to help them achieve their goals while serving their country. If you would like more information on how to join our organization, please visit the Army National Guardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CORRBN for Air National Guard visit www.goang.com/co 74

milehighsports.com | November 2012

ATHLETE


Veterans’ Day Tribute

SOLDIER

ATHLETE Athlete: James Lawrence Athletic Event: Triathlon, road and track cycling, cyclocross Athletic Highlights: Lawrence is a veteran of nine Ironman triathlons (Switzerland 1997, Switzerland ’98, Austria ’99, Switzerland ’99, California 2000, USA ’01, Florida ’02, Wisconsin ’05, Louisville ’08), he now turns his attention to the bike. “I started competing in triathlons while at the United States Air Force Academy, as did my wife. I moved to cycling when my three daughters started racing bicycles. Now, we all race. And we ride a bicycle built for five, which we recently rode to the top of Pikes Peak.”

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Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day Tribute

SOLDIER Soldier: Eugene A.K. Patton, Jr. Age: 38 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Staff Sergeant (E-6) Duties: Staff Sgt. Patton is the battalion readiness noncommissioned officer and security manager, information technology section noncommissioned officer in charge for the 117th Space Support Battalion. As such, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s responsible for preparing soldiers for deployments through training and exercises, and assisting soldiers in getting their security clearances and ensuring security procedures are followed.

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ATHLETE


Veterans’ Day Tribute

SOLDIER

ATHLETE Athlete: Eugene A.K. Patton, Jr. Athletic Event: Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition Athletic Highlights: Patton earned 1st Place in both the Colorado and the Army National Guard Region VII Best Warrior competition, and earned 2nd Place at the National Guard Bureau Best Warrior Competition in 2012. The competition includes various mental and physical events such as: the Army Physical Fitness Test; miscellaneous swim events; obstacle courses; day and night land navigation; weapons qualifications and stress shoots; foot marches of varying distances (5-9 miles) while carrying at least 45 pounds; various Army Warrior Tasks; Army Combatives; and other mental challenges such as essays, exams and question-and-answer boards. “The first time I participated, I was told the night before the Battalion Soldier of the Year Board that I would be competing. Ever since that day, I have enjoyed being a part of this tradition. I love pushing myself to —and beyond—my limits. I enjoy learning new things and being able to improve myself physically.”

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Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day Tribute

SOLDIER Soldier: Laura Jane Winkfein Age: 33 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Sergeant First Class (E-7) Duties: Sgt. 1st Class Winkfein is a technician, budget analyst and project manager for the information technology department (G-6).

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ATHLETE Soldier: Joe Ziser Age: 34 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Sergeant First Class (E-7) Duties: Sgt. 1st Class Ziser is a member of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive-Enhanced Response Force Package. Working with civilian first responders here in Colorado and around the nation, as required, his team is a specialized, highly trained unit able to quickly respond to all matters of hazardous situations, natural or man-made.

Soldier: Andy Wilkens Age: 44 Branch: Army National Guard Rank: Specialist (E-4) Duties: Spc. Wilkens is a paratrooper working in the supply and transportation section of Company D, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group. He also assists in marksmanship training as well as winter warfare skills as a mountain warfare trainer.


Veterans’ Day Tribute

SOLDIER Athlete: Joe Ziser Athletic Event: Biathlon Athletic Highlights: An avid cyclist during warm-weather months, Ziser was looking for a way to stay physically fit during the winter. Biathlon was the perfect fit, so he joined the team this year, continuing his interest in endurance sports. “I had spinal fusion surgery three years ago, so I can no longer run and jump like I used to. Biathlon is a way for me to stay involved in athletics.”

Athlete: Andy Wilkens Athletic Event: Biathlon Athletic Highlights: As the coach and team member of the Colorado National Guard Biathlon Team, Wilkens has spearheaded the defending champions in the Western Region for 2011 and 2012. But success is nothing new for Wilkens. He was also a member of the 1988 NCAA Nordic skiing national championship team at Northern Michigan University and a two-time Michigan High School state champion in cross-country skiing (1986, ’87). “A couple of years after moving to Colorado, I borrowed a friend’s rifle and entered a race. It didn’t go very well. I stuck with it and after enlisting in the Colorado National Guard, and in ’94, I received a wealth of guidance, training and support from the National Guard Biathlon program.”

ATHLETE Athlete: Laura Jane Winkfein Athletic Event: Biathlon Athletic Highlights: Winkfein is a new member of the Colorado National Guard Biathlon Team, adding the sport to an already impressive résumé. In addition to her time on skis and shooting, she also competes on the NPC Physique stage. “I’ve always been a good shot and I really enjoy cross-country skiing. Why not combine the two?”

A Biathlon is a Winter Olympic Sport combining the endurance sport of cross-country ski racing with rifle marksmanship, in which athletes are required to negotiate a set course while periodically stopping at a 50-meter range to accurately engage five targets.

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Basketball MILE HIGH SPORTS

2012

A kid At heArt, the Nuggets’ keNNeth FAried wAlks oN the bright side By Jon Ackerman

Kenneth Faried loves pasta. Actually, he loves the pasta at Noodles and Company. Loves it so much that he frequents the restaurant at 6th Avenue and Broadway on a near-daily basis. On this early fall afternoon, the woman behind the register smiles as he walks in. She asks, “The usual?”

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f course he wants the usual. Penne Rosa—a plate full of small-tube pasta sitting beneath a spicy tomato cream sauce, chopped tomatoes, spinach and parmesan cheese, and topped with a sliced parmesan-crusted chicken breast. “They said this is the best thing. Everybody orders it, ‘This is our signature,’” Faried says as he begins to dig in. “So I tried it. And ever since then, I couldn’t go back.” But he will add side dishes. Today, it’s mac and cheese. “Always been a pasta fan, since I was younger,” he says. Yet Noodles is a recent love affair. The chain restaurant doesn’t exist in Newark, N.J., Faried’s hometown, or Morehead, Ky., his college town. He discovered the joint soon after moving into his apartment south of downtown Denver, which he found soon after the Nuggets used their first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft on the 6-foot-8, 228-pound forward. And he was sold after his first plate of penne. So sold that he began tweeting about his lunches. On Sept. 19, there was this: “Been awhile but needed this fix @NoodlesCompany #WINNING.” And on Aug. 28: “I’m @noodlescompany again. I might need an intervention.” @NoodlesCompany loved the free promotion from @KennethFaried35 to his 35,000-plus followers, so Joe Mogor, the store manager at 6th and Broadway, introduced Faried to some of the company’s executives. They subsequently handed their loyal customer a gift card, which has a limit, but all Faried knows is he hasn’t reached it yet. Now, Noodles is not an official sponsor of Faried. But give the 22-yearold forward a full season in the Nuggets’ starting five and watch the

numbers he put up as a rookie (10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game) multiply. That might make him more of a corporate commodity. It wouldn’t take much to get Faried to don some of the company’s gear; he’s already doing as such on Friday nights. That’s when he takes part in a bowling league on a team—named Noodles—headed up by Mogor. Faried picked up the hobby over the summer in Los Angeles with a buddy, who taught him how to roll a hook. Before long, Faried was hooked. “It just went so fluid and so easy,” he says of his introduction to bowling. “It was just like, ‘Strike, strike, strike.’” One afternoon, as he was ordering another plate of Penne Rosa, Faried asked Mogor if he bowled. He did, in fact, so the GM quickly found a league. Faried then went shopping. He ordered a custom-made 15-pound ball, purchased a bag to lug it around and found one of the few size-15 pairs of bowling shoes in town. “You really need this stuff in a bowling league. You can’t just come in there with a house ball thinking you’re about to just get a perfect game,” he says.

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The closest Faried has ever rolled to a 300 is 230, starting off with six straight strikes. “I messed up on the seventh frame,” he says. How did it go after that? “I got mad. I’m not talking about it, so leave it alone.” Maybe he’ll reach the magic number when he gets his new ball, which will feature, “The Nuggets logo and then ‘Manimal’ under and (the number) 35,” he says. Ah, the Manimal. The nickname, inspired by his ferocious rebounding skills, is called out often as he bowls. Kids spot the tall frame and long, dreadlocked hair, and ask for a picture, while grown men often seek autographs. Faried obliges, but quickly refocuses. He may be a newbie, but the team—sporting all black polo shirts with the Noodles company logo on the front and the bowler’s name on the back (Faried’s features another nickname: Pin Sweeper)—depends on him. He was the four-man squad’s high scorer in the first league match, rolling a 203 in the third and final game. His stepbrother, Davon Hudspeth, is also on the team, but not because he shares Faried’s passion for knocking over pins. He moved in with his older sibling in June, and not knowing many other people in town, soon found himself frequenting Brunswicks and Lucky Strikes. “I don’t know where it came from, but he put me on the team,” Hudspeth says. “I suck at it, though. He’s pretty good, but I absolutely suck at it.” So he quietly waits for them to return to their apartment so he can challenge big bro to a game of Madden NFL 13, FIFA Soccer 13 or Kinect Sports. “It gets real competitive,” Hudspeth says of the marathon video game sessions. They both enjoy sports, but Faried also has a penchant for adventure games like Call of Duty—ones in which users can get online and talk smack to their virtual opponents. “Yeah, I do that,” Faried admits. It’s a simple life: Play basketball for a living, go bowling and play video games for fun, and fill up on free pasta to refuel. He’s blessed and he knows it. That’s why Faried smiles on the court more than any other Nugget. Why he’s at ease talking with a restaurant cashier

and a corporate executive all the same. Why he enjoys having his little brother tag along in his new hometown. But Faried’s life will never be as simple as it seems. enneth Bernard Faried-Lewis II was born on Nov. 19, 1989, in Newark, N.J., the only child for Waudda Faried and Kenneth Lewis Sr., who were never married. The birth came just months after Waudda’s mother, Ishanaj, passed away following a painstakingly long battle with lupus—a chronic, autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s tissues and organs. Two years later, doctors diagnosed Waudda with the same illness, and seven years after that, it began its attack on her body. She often missed her son’s basketball games because she was lying in a hospital bed, but Waudda asked for all the details when Kenneth Sr. would bring their boy by to visit. Many nights passed where she didn’t think she’d make it to see Nard—her preferred nickname, which is short for Bernard—achieve his dream of reaching the NBA. But in 2009, Waudda received a much-needed kidney transplant. “It really helped turn things around for the better,” Faried says. Faried thought twice about leaving his mom in New Jersey to attend college, but Waudda didn’t want him to see what she saw her mother go through. She insisted he take up the scholarship offer


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“He showed last year that he has the tenacity and the ability to go out there and score and rebound on an NBA level. Can he develop the skill and the touch along with it?” - Josh Kroenke, Nuggets president

from Morehead State, one of only three schools to seriously pursue him. Besides, Kenneth Sr. could look after her, as could Mashsin Copeland, Waudda’s wife. The two women were married at the Newark City Hall municipal court in April 2007, a month before Kenneth Jr. graduated from Newark Technology High School. Faried never questioned his mother’s lesbian relationship, seeing right away that they loved each other, and their children. With their legal bond, Copeland added four kids to the family, the youngest

along. Somewhere, cassette tapes exist featuring the voice of Little KK—yet another nickname, one Faried picked up as a youngster because people called his father KK. Those tapes may be in the boxes that Kenneth Sr. brought to Denver in October, when he took up residence in the Mile High City at his son’s request. These days, he works in construction and will likely find jobs to keep him busy in Denver, even though Faried insists his father doesn’t have to work. After all, his son signed a rookie

“She could have been in the WNBA because she played basketball. She was good enough.”- Kenneth Faried being Hudspeth, who is three years Faried’s junior. They were the two children who spent the most time together in the family’s apartment at Newark’s Zion Towers, often playing earlier versions of the video games they enjoy together today. When Faried spent time with his father, who once was an aspiring deejay, he liked trying his hand at spinning records and rapping

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contract worth $2.5 million over two years, with team options for two more years. Father and son also spent time together attending a Baptist church. But before long, Faried chose to become a Muslim, the Islamic religion chosen by his mother and her partner. The athletic skills may also be attributed to Waudda, who was a

standout track and basketball athlete prior to lupus. “She could have made it to the Olympics for track, but lupus slowed her down and her doctors said no,” Faried says. “She could have been in the WNBA because she played basketball. She was good enough. There’s just so many things that if lupus didn’t take over—she broke records in high school.” But she didn’t let the disease break her spirit. Faried doesn’t like to talk much about his mother’s illness and how tough it is on him, but he’s quick to say, “She’s a very strong woman.” He yearns to have her join him in Denver, as well, but understands that the doctors who know her best and have treated her for years are back in New Jersey. He’s sincerely grateful for Waudda picking up as many as four jobs at a time to keep food on the table. And he realizes he wouldn’t be where he is without her. “It was just amazing to see how strong (she was) and she kept fighting and kept fighting and she wouldn’t let go because she wanted to see me make it to make my dream,” he says. Faried understands that desire to provide for a child, as he has a twoyear-old daughter, Kyra, who lives in Kentucky with her mother, Rebecca McCarthy, a good friend of Faried’s. He may ply his trade 1,200 miles away, but Faried says he can see his daughter just about any time he wants. If he doesn’t fly out to Kentucky, he’ll often arrange for his mother to pick Kyra up and continue on to Denver. Flying isn’t as much of an issue for Waudda as it was before her kidney transplant. Today, her health is the best it’s been in years. “The doctor said she’s doing great, don’t change anything,” Faried says. “She’s starting to get lower and lower doses of medication, so that’s good.” He still takes comfort in knowing Copeland is around should any emergency arise, and as his second mother takes care of his birth mother, Faried watches after Copeland’s son. Hudspeth plans to enroll at Metro State in January. By that time, Faried should be settling into his first “normal” season as a pro. He started all but seven of his 46 games at power forward in the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, but considering he was a large reason the Nuggets front office felt comfortable trading away Nene, Faried should be a starter from the get-go this year. “The kid fights,” says Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri. “We saw it in the playoffs, we saw it last year. He finds a way, and I think with those kinds of players, it’s hard to pinpoint where the ceiling is. And he’s young, he’ll continue to grow and he’s working on his game. He’s an athletic crazy freak.” Adds Nuggets president Josh Kroenke, “A lot of it’s on Kenneth at this point in his life and his career. He showed last year that he has the tenacity and the ability to go out there and score and rebound on an NBA level. Can he develop the skill and the touch along with it? It’s going to be a product of what he wants to do going forward. I think that if he keeps working, the sky’s the limit for Kenneth.” With his NBA future bright, his mother’s health on the up-and-up, and his father living in the same city for the first time in six years, don’t be surprised to catch Faried smiling a lot this season. He’s always been a jovial person, despite everything he’s been through, but never has he had more reason to be so. “I struggled all my life, so when you get a little bit of success, it shouldn’t change you,” Faried says between bites of that delicious pasta. Then he adds, “I’m just one happy kid to be here.”


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Basketball MILE HIGH SPORTS

2012

After A new megA-contrAct And time spent with one of the gAmeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greAt centers, JAVAle mcgee is reAdy for the seAson By Pat Rooney

In the end, JaVale McGee made the decision easy for Masai Ujiri. Clearly, McGee was a player the Nuggetsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; general manager coveted, given that he acquired the athletically gifted 7-footer in a three-team, pre-trade deadline deal last spring that also allowed Denver to unload the talented but perennially frustrating Nene.

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o general manager, let alone one who has proven to be as shrewd as Ujiri, makes such a move without keeping an eye on the future. Ujiri made McGee Denver’s cornerstone acquisition in the deal because of the 24-year-old center’s intoxicating mix of size, athleticism and youth—which made it easy to believe that McGee had hardly come close to maximizing his potential during his three-plus seasons with Washington. Still, one does not award any player a four-year, $44 million deal, as the Nuggets finalized with McGee in July, without achieving a certain level of comfort. For Ujiri, it was not the 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds McGee averaged in his 20 regular season games with the Nuggets. Nor was it the two monster games McGee turned in during Denver’s sevengame loss against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It wasn’t even the work McGee put in over the summer while working out under the watchful eye of one of the best post players ever to ply his skills in the NBA. No, what impressed Ujiri the most about McGee came weeks later, after the sting of yet another first-round ouster began to ebb and the groundwork began to be set for a 2012–13 season ripe with potential.

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Although he undoubtedly was acquired with an eye toward the future, McGee’s status with the Nuggets remained in limbo once the 2011–12 campaign ended. Nevertheless, as the summer began, there was McGee working out with his Nuggets teammates. Sweating through reps in the weight room. Going through drills on the practice courts. All the while, McGee was still without a contract. Granted, McGee was a restricted free agent, meaning the Nuggets never relinquished having the final say in deciding the fate of McGee’s immediate future. Yet what Ujiri saw in those moments made an enduring impression. How often does a young NBA player freely give his time, let alone his sweat, without a deal in hand? Heck, how many are willing to show their face at a team facility without first being shown the money? McGee did. Now, not only does he have the money, but he has the backing of a Nuggets management team that remains unflappably confident that McGee will be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. “It showed us he’s really dedicated to becoming not only a full-time Nuggets player, because he was in some ways part-time last year, but it encourages you when he does not go out to seek another (team),” Ujiri said. “He point blank told us, ‘I want to be here. I want to grow with

the team. I want to become the best player I can become and I want to win.’ “That’s encouraging for us. Those are the guys you want around.” For his part, McGee has deflected any talk regarding the notion that it’s unusual for a player to display such devotion without a finalized contract. McGee simply considered himself a Nugget from the moment he landed in Denver. “I’m definitely a dedicated basketball player,” McGee said. “This is my life. This is my livelihood. I have to feed my family off of what I accomplish and what I do in the NBA. I plan on feeding my family for a long time. (The Nuggets) were all very professional and they’re all about basketball. They’re all about getting their players better, and I appreciate that.” While McGee’s workouts at the Nuggets’ facilities—routines that helped add about 15 pounds to McGee’s 7-foot frame since the end of last season— it was his work down south in Texas under the tutelage of a certain Hall of Famer that may reap the biggest dividends for Denver this season. For many years since his retirement, Hakeem Olajuwon has run an invitation-only summer camp for big men at his home base outside Houston, where he helped lead the Rockets to a pair of NBA titles in the mid-1990s. This summer, McGee, along with teammate Kenneth Faried, was invited to Texas in order to be put through the paces by Olajuwon. For three weeks, McGee and Faried went through punishing workouts with the NBA legend. They learned some of the tricks of the trade that made Olajuwon such a diverse threat in the post. They discussed positioning and the overlooked art of just when exactly a post player should call for the ball. And perhaps most importantly, McGee and Faried listened to the old tales and bits of wisdom dispersed by “The Dream.” “It was definitely a great experience,” McGee said. “The thing that was most beneficial for me was just getting the confidence of getting a go-to move. It was all offensive. It was just individual workouts for two, three hours straight. It was a great experience being out there and learning from a great (player).” The private tutorial for McGee and Faried was set up with a big assist from Ujiri. The Nuggets GM was resoundingly impressed with the instruction his two youngsters received. “I think it was everything. Footwork. Concentration on the game. Concentration on getting one-on-one teaching from a legend. I talked to Hakeem about teaching (McGee) things about becoming the player your talent should match up with,” Ujiri said. “JaVale was very good. He spent three weeks there and worked out three hours a day with him. They did everything, from footwork to shooting to having your back to the basket


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and facing up. And then spending a few minutes about being a professional in terms of what it’s going to take to take your game to the highest level. “I was talking to JaVale about Hakeem and he was so appreciative. He loves Hakeem and it was good for him. It’s not only something that’s going to be done this (past) summer. We look forward to next summer and where he’s going to continue. He’ll continue to grow and get better. And next summer, he’ll work with him again; that’s the process.” Of course, McGee’s continued development next summer and beyond is less of a concern than the task at hand as the Nuggets embark on what could be a promising 2012–13 campaign. After his arrival in March, McGee averaged 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in 20 games with the Nuggets. Those figures landed slightly below McGee’s overall season averages of 11.3 points and

“It’s not going to be an overnight thing, but I think he’ll do it.” - Masai Ujiri. Nuggets GM

7.8 rebounds, but he compiled them while playing about seven fewer minutes per game than he did in 41 contests with Washington. McGee turned heads with a couple of his postseason performances against the Lakers. In game three of the teams’ firstround showdown, McGee shot 8-for-12 from the field, eventually finishing with 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. McGee was even more impressive in game five, going 9-for-12 and finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Not coincidentally, the Nuggets won both games. “He’s long, and he’s going to figure out a way to get in there and mix it up,” Ujiri said. “When you

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add a couple pounds, it always helps with the number of games and guys always beating you up. Just for competing with big guys in the league, he has done a great job this summer and we’re very proud of him. “We saw flashes in the playoffs. We saw flashes in a couple regular season games. We’re hoping he can continue to grow. It’s not going to be an overnight thing, but I think he’ll do it. He’ll hopefully take a big step this year.” In addition to the Camp Olajuwon tutorial, McGee’s devotion to the weight room over the summer should make him more prepared for the nightly rigors that come with competing in the Western Conference. While McGee has added much-needed bulk, he believes he has not sacrificed an ounce of the athleticism that makes his skill set among the most unique in the league. “I probably gained like 15 pounds. It’s really

going to be an asset,” McGee said. “I still have my athletic ability, and that’s all that I was really worried about. I still have my speed and I’m stronger. I feel that since I’m getting older I can keep weight. Usually, I gain pounds over the summer, but then I lose it right away. I’ve figured out how I can keep weight.” With his contract in hand and the trust of the Nuggets’ management squarely in his corner, McGee is focused on achieving one of the biggest tenants of the wisdom gleaned this summer from Olajuwon—matching his talent and vast potential with production. If that happens, Nuggets fans can expect many more thrilling moments like the ones McGee put together during the NBA playoffs.


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Basketball MILE HIGH SPORTS

2012

Colorado basketball is rapidly moving in the right direCtion By Eric Goodman

Tad Boyle is reticent to acknowledge Colorado is quickly becoming a basketball school. But it is. “We’re shooting to have a top-25 program and the whole key for us is not only to build that, but to sustain that,” Boyle recently noted. “We’re not there yet, but if you look at the young players we have in our program and the young players who are coming into our program, there’s a lot of reason for excitement.”

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he fervor is staring to build after last season’s shocking run through the Pac-12 Tournament, a four-game stretch that earned CU an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The title not only forced the country take notice, but it built a foundation of things to come. “Colorado is seen as an upand-comer on the national scene, especially with the way they ended last season,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said about the Buffs. “That was an important first step to national relevance. Then, going into the NCAA Tournament and performing well was really important. This provided (CU) with really needed momentum in building a program at a quicker pace.” Boyle is quickly, but not quietly, building an impressive basketball program. He engineered a top-25 recruiting class in just his second full season on the job by staying patient and outhustling some of the top programs in the country. Six-foot-10 power forward Josh Scott from Monument (Colo.) is considered the gem of the incoming freshman class. He was already getting recruiting letters during his sophomore season, but foot surgery gave other schools pause and they wanted to monitor his situation. “I know there are a bunch of schools that wished they would have jumped on me after my foot surgery, but CU was right there through the whole thing,” Scott told the Denver Post in 2011. “They offered me sophomore year and stayed with me. When I made my decision, I knew I wasn’t going to switch

Josh Scott

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it. I’m a loyal person, just like they were loyal to me.” Once healthy, Scott dominated his final two years at Lewis-Palmer High School and burst onto the national scene in AAU ball, where he was named the most valuable player in Kansas City. Suddenly, Scott was a hot prospect with unwavering loyalty to Boyle. Scott has been followed to Boulder by another top-100 recruit, Xavier Johnson, along with four other terrific freshmen to give Colorado the country’s 21st-ranked incoming class. Boyle has been uncharacteristically effusive about Scott and Johnson, calling them better than advertised. “High school recruits are buying in,” Bilas added. “He’s in with a lot more players than most people would think that Colorado would be in on two or three years ago. And that’s where it should give you a reason to believe in this program.” The 2013 class is promising, as well, prompting ESPN’s Reggie Rankin to write, “The Buffs are adding quality pieces to help them be a major player in the Pac-12 in the near future.” But the future is now, even though the season is barely underway. After losing four seniors, Boyle was concerned how quickly his six freshmen would gel with Andre Roberson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and the rest of the team. So Boyle took his team

to Europe this summer, and it’s paid immediate dividends. “It looked like they were having a little bit of difficulty gelling in their practices before they left for Europe, but over the course of that trip, they came together and it did wonders for them in terms of them growing together against higher level competition,” Adam Munsterteiger from Rivals.com said. “I think this trip could be the difference between them being an NIT team to an NCAA team. I think an NCAA Tournament berth is a realistic expectation for this team.” Boyle is cautiously optimistic. And he’s tempering his enthusiasm

to do that. We haven’t cracked the top 25 since we’ve been here and we’ve had two pretty good doggone teams, so that’s the goal. A lot of people never believed Colorado could be great in basketball and I beg to differ.” Colorado is on the upswing and it starts with Boyle. “I’m a big believer in Tad Boyle,” Bilas continued. “He’s uncompromising in his beliefs on how to do this and how to do it right. But at the same time, he’s easy to play for because there’s no ambiguity. He is not only a terrific teacher of the game with great basketball knowledge, he keeps it simple and gives his players an

“If I’m looking for the next best gig while recruiting, then I’m a hypocrite; I’m not a used car salesman.”-Tad Boyle with boosters and his players. He feels the excitement, but refuses buy into the hype. You’ll never hear him talk about making the NCAA Tournament or cracking the top 25. He chooses his words carefully to avoid setting expectations, but is keenly focused on where he wants to take this program. “I want Colorado to be viewed as a perennial top-25 basketball program year in and year out,” said Boyle. “And that’s going to take time

understanding of what you need to do to win, but a firm understanding of how teams lose, too. Former Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun had that same quality. Boyle is a really good fit at the right time for Colorado and I believe he’s the type of guy who will be there for a while.” Staying for a while has many concerned. Boyle was a hot commodity following the Pac-12 Tournament title and an opening


round win in the NCAA tourney. Nebraska and Kansas State wanted Boyle. But he’s still in Boulder. Yet some wonder what will happen when some of the traditional powerhouses show interest. “I want to do something special here at Colorado. I don’t have any interest in other jobs. I would love it if CU were my last job,” Boyle told me last spring. “If I’m looking for the next best gig while recruiting, then I’m a hypocrite; I’m not a used car salesman.” That he’s not, especially when it comes to cashing in on the next big payday. Boyle is well compensated with his re-worked contract last year. Colorado is committed to him personally and financially. And that loyalty has paid dividends with a pair of consecutive 20-win seasons. Getting to know Boyle is to understand he’s not looking over your shoulder for the bigger and better deal. The Greeley native is grounded, hardworking, honest and considered by many as one of the most promising up-and-coming coaches in the country. “Tad Boyle is obviously a great coach because you look at his first two teams at Colorado and his teams have gotten gradually better throughout the season,” Munsterteiger added. “I think that’s a pretty good indicator that you have a pretty good coach.” Boyle is building a program without the luxury of tradition. He’s starting something like Calhoun did at the University of Connecticut. And his peers are taking notice. “I want to say the job that Tad Boyle has done at Colorado, and what Colorado represents to the future of the Pac-12, I can make the argument that there’s been no greater gift to college basketball in the Pac-12 than adding Colorado,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller following the conference tournament title game a year ago.

Miller better be careful what he asks for. Arizona and UCLA are considered the frontrunners this season in the Pac-12, but Colorado is lurking. Many believe the Buffs will struggle because they lost four seniors, but don’t underestimate the undersized Roberson, who many believe is a first-round pick in next year’s draft, and how much the veterans bonded and meshed with this talented freshman class on their European vacation. “There’s no question Colorado has talent; this is a more talented basketball team from top to bottom than the one they had last year,” said Munsterteiger. And Scott, who Bilas believes is one of the top seven freshmen in the country, is a big reason for that. “Josh Scott has been everything we thought he’d be

“I can make the argument that there’s been no greater gift to college basketball in the Pac12 than adding Colorado.”

UNFInSHED BUSINESS Denver’s basketball team looks to make waves in the WAC By Dan Mohrmann It was theirs for the taking. After earning a No. 3 seed in the Sun Belt Conference tournament last year, and then watching the top two seeds fall in stunning upsets, the University of Denver Pioneers seemed to have a paved road to the NCAA Tournament. Western Kentucky, however, had other ideas. Despite a 13-point win over the Hilltoppers during the regular season, the Pioneers fell in the semifinals of the conference tournament, ending any hopes the team had for an NCAA tourney bid, despite a 22-win season. That loss was Denver’s last game in the Sun Belt; the team has moved on to the Western Athletic Conference, where they hope to accomplish the goal of making the pool of 68 in March. At one point, that idea may have seemed far-fetched, but college basketball in Colorado is no longer a punch line. It’s not inconceivable that three teams from the state could be playing late in March. “I was just saying the other day that if you flashed back five years ago when I was hired and looked at the state of college basketball, you would equate it to the current state of college football in Colorado,” head coach Joe Scott said. “I think it’s really important that (DU, Colorado and Colorado State) are all doing well. We had three 20-win teams last year and they have a lot of guys back.” The Pioneers are transitioning into a conference that plays to their home base more than the

-Sean Miller, Arizona Head Coach

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“Anything less than a return to the dance and a shot at the Sweet 16 would be a disappointment for this group.”

Sun Belt did. Gone are the trips to Florida and Alabama. The team will get to stay closer to home by traveling to regional destinations like California and Utah. The competition level for the Pioneers will be heightened, too. But as Scott has shown in his time at Denver, his team will continue to improve and will make a push every year for the NCAA Tournament.

- roundballdaily.com

Although CU and CSU get all the attention, the Pioneers can certainly hold their own. Last season, they traveled to Fort Collins and lost to the Rams by a slim, four-point margin. Big man Chris Udofia returns for his junior campaign and will anchor Denver’s lineup alongside sophomores Royce O’Neale, Brett Olson and senior Chase Hallam. The four returning starters should have enough big-game experience under their belt to make DU a serious threat to win the WAC in their first season of play in the conference. “Last year, we had to find who our main guys were; this year, we have to find the right role players,” Scott said. “Last year to start the year, I thought we had guys who were good role players. This year is flipflopped. We need guys who can execute their roles at a high level.” The battle-tested Pioneers are going to have their work cut out for them in the 2012-13 campaign, as they will once again face CSU, a 2012 NCAA Tournament team. They will also play Cal, one of the two Pac-12 representatives in the Big Dance, as well as NIT champion Stanford. With a win against any of those opponents and a solid conference season, another 22-win season will put DU on the national map and set the rest of the WAC on notice.

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and probably more,” said Boyle. “We knew he was talented, but until you’ve seen him go up against guys who are bigger, stronger and older than him, you don’t know how he’s going to react. Over that five game stretch in Europe, when a kid averages 17 points and seven rebounds per game, that doesn’t happen by accident.” The upgrade in talent coupled with a coach who has done a brilliant job of getting the most out of his talent is an encouraging blueprint moving forward. Colorado basketball fans are starting to experience something rarely seen in Boulder—a sold out arena. You can make the case that traffic was worse for last year’s home game against Oregon than for any football game in recent memory. Apathy has permeated Colorado basketball so deeply over the years that there’s rarely a need for more than an handful of policemen to direct traffic. If Boyle’s Buffs continue to show improvement, it’ll be all hands on deck. “You see the enthusiasm in the game-day atmosphere and excitement around the program on how much it’s changed within the last three years,” Munsterteiger continued. “I don’t know if it’s reached throughout the state, but definitely around Boulder, it’s changed quite a bit.” And it’s going to continue to change. Boyle isn’t building a team.

He’s constructing a program that’s built to last. Each of his teams has gotten better as the season has progressed. His first year ended with a trip to the NIT semifinals. And then, his team peaked in the Pac-12 Tournament to earn a trip to the big dance. All fans can asked is yearly improvement from a new coach. And with Boyle, they’ve got it in spades. “They did a really good job last year and I believe they’ll do better this year,” said Bilas. “They have some really good pieces and they’ll continue to build. But it doesn’t matter what we believe; it matters what they prove.” Proving it begins on Nov. 9 against Wofford College. The Charleston Classic looks to be a challenge, as well as a trip to Lawrence, Kansas. Once again, the Pac-12 is in for another down year, so this could translate for another up season for the Buffs. There’s no reason to believe the Buffs shouldn’t consistently be a top-four team in the conference moving forward. Roundballdaily.com took it a step further. “Anything less than a return to the dance and a shot at the Sweet 16 would be a disappointment for this group.” Boyle won’t publically agree, but you know he’s thinking it. Expectations are good when they’re realistic. It’s realistic to believe this program is heading in the right direction under Boyle. Not bad for a football school that’ll soon be seen as a basketball school.


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Basketball MILE HIGH SPORTS

2012

Larry Eustachy comEs to thE Fort with thE FinaL Four as his goaL By Ken Reed

Larry Eustachy doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mind high expectations. Since he began working the 12-step program that helps him deal with his alcoholism, Eustachy only concerns himself with things he can control. And what other people expect arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t among them.

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know I can’t control others’ expectations,” says Eustachy. “Here’s what I can control—getting rest, being prepared and bringing my A-game to practice every day. In my mind, the key to being a successful coach is practice. Game coaching is overrated. I can control being at my best and giving my best at practice every day. People’s expectations—positive or negative—or what people think of me, or our program, those types of things have nothing to do with what’s under my control. “I know students, fans and the media have high expectations for us this season,” says Eustachy. “That’s fine. I welcome high expectations versus low expectations. I’d rather be dealing with our situation than what our football team’s going through.” Make no mistake; the expectations for CSU’s men’s basketball team have risen to the rafters of Moby Arena, the Rams’ home court. Colorado State had a nice run last season, finishing 20-12 and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Most of the key players from that squad return, to be joined by a talented group of transfers and freshmen. One key person who didn’t return is the architect of last season’s NCAA tourney team, head coach Tim Miles, who left to take the top job at Nebraska. However, Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham, while disappointed that Miles left, wasted little time landing Eustachy, a highquality replacement. The players, fans, CSU administrators and Eustachy himself appreciate what Miles accomplished in Fort Collins. But the focus now is squarely on the future. “I can’t say enough about Tim Miles and the job he did here,” says Eustachy. “But our goal now is to pick up where he left off and get better.” He’s thrilled with the administrative support he has and he’s excited

“I’d rather be dealing with our situation than what our football team’s going through.” - Larry Eustachy about president Tony Frank’s decision to move ahead with the new on-campus football stadium. He thinks it will benefit the entire athletic program, and the university in general. “Colorado State can be one of the ‘haves’ across the college sports landscape,” says Eustachy. “The football stadium can certainly help. I can remember when Boise State was a small football program, drawing 10,000 people a game. You’ve seen what they’ve done. It can happen here. We have a lot more to offer here at CSU and Fort Collins than Boise State has. A top-notch athletic program can help boost the school in many ways, too. The year after we took Iowa State to the Elite Eight, the school’s enrollment skyrocketed.” Eustachy has a national brand name that Miles doesn’t. He’s taken Utah State and Southern Mississippi to the NCAA Tournament, and led the mediocre Iowa State program he inherited to back-to-back Big 12 titles and an Elite Eight appearance in the Big Dance. He also brings the credibility of being a former AP National Coach of the Year. However, his path to Fort Collins has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. Not too long after reaching the mountaintop at Iowa State, he crashed. In April of 2003, a Des Moines newspaper ran pictures of Eustachy kissing several young women and holding a beer at a party near the University of Missouri’s campus after the Tigers had defeated his Cyclones. A little more than a week after the pictures ran, Eustachy was out as coach at Iowa State. Following his alcohol-induced implosion at Iowa State, Eustachy surfaced at Southern Mississippi, a remote football school with no basketball tradition or passion. For a time, Eustachy’s office at Southern Miss was in a trailer. He quickly discovered that actual attendance at Southern Miss basketball games was more often in the hundreds than

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the thousands. Nevertheless, he gradually built a team that regularly knocked off some of the country’s basketball powers, one that played in the NCAA Tournament last season. That caught the eye of Graham and landed him an opportunity in Fort Collins. Eustachy thinks the CSU job is a hidden gem. He’s grateful for the support CSU president Tony Frank and athletic director Jack Graham provide. He’s also happy with his budget and facilities. And he’s starting from a much better place than where he started at Southern Miss. He has a team that can win. Now. Major contributors from last year’s NCAA tourney run, Pierce Hornung, Wes Eikmeier, Dorian Green, Greg Smith, and Dwight Smith return. They’ll be joined by a couple highly regarded transfers that sat out last year—forward/ center Colton Iverson from the University of Minnesota and guard Daniel Bejarano from the University of Arizona. Two junior college transfers will likely contribute right away this season, as well—forward Gerson Santo

from the College of Southern Idaho and guard Jonathan Octeus from Wabash Valley College. They’ll be joined by promising freshmen Jordan Mason from Texas and Joe De Ciman from Saskatchewan. One early setback for Eustachy was the loss of veteran guard Jesse Carr, who tore an ACL in preseason workouts and is out for the year. “Losing Jesse Carr was a big blow for us,” says Eustachy. “He’s a great kid, plus we don’t have a lot

“The year after we took Iowa State to the Elite Eight, the school’s enrollment skyrocketed.” - Larry Eustachy


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of depth in terms of ball handling and playmaking.” But Carr’s loss hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for this team and its prospects. “I’m excited about this group,” says Eustachy. “It’s a bunch of great character guys and pretty good players. If you look at the games they won last year, you realize they really pulled some of them out with pure heart and soul.” Besides getting the 2012–13

adding kids from junior college if they’re the right fit. “My goal is to average about three high school recruits for every junior college recruit,” says Eustachy. “But primarily, I’m interested in getting the right type of kids for our program, wherever they come from—high school, junior college or prep school. There’s a stigma about junior college kids that I take offense to, that junior college coaches take offense to, and that JC players take offense to. We’re not going to take any fools or bad students at this place, whether they’re high school or JC kids. This school and community wouldn’t put up with that.” He’s already seen a difference in the caliber of player willing to talk to him about CSU versus the caliber of kid

“I’ve never seen a jockey carry a horse across the finish line and I’ve seen a lot of horse races.” - Larry Eustachy team ready for the season, Eustachy’s very concerned about recruiting, so that the program’s momentum continues beyond this season. “We’re working hard at recruiting to make sure we don’t take a huge dive in the next couple years,” says Eustachy. “I’m happy with the kids we brought in late this first year. They’re every bit what I expected. Some of the best players I’ve had through the years we’ve gotten late. “You have to have players. I’ve never seen a jockey carry a horse across the finish line and I’ve seen a lot of horse races.” Eustachy says he’s looking for ACC-caliber talent. But he believes recruiting is about a lot more than talent. “Jerry Sloan (former Utah Jazz coach) once told me that it starts with intelligence and character, and it ends there, too,” says Eustachy. “I believe that.” His goal is to build around high school recruits, but he’s open to

“We’re not going to take any fools or bad students at this place.” - Larry Eustachy

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that was open to what he was selling at Southern Mississippi. “We’re definitely involved with some top players here that wouldn’t have returned my calls at Southern Miss,” says Eustachy. According to recruiting web sites, Eustachy has landed a commitment from one of the best high school players in Colorado this year, Carlton Hurst from Aurora Central High School. In terms of his coaching style, Eustachy’s going to modify one thing in Fort Collins—the pace of play his teams will use. “We’ve always pushed the pace and been one of the highest scoring teams in our leagues, but I can see us picking up the tempo even more at CSU,” says Eustachy. “I can see us pressing and trapping more. We’d be crazy to not take advantage of the altitude here.” He believes the altitude and a rocking Moby Arena will give his team a great home court advantage. “Our goal is to turn CSU basketball into an event, a mustsee event,” says Eustachy. “We want to sell out every game. We did that at Iowa State and this is a very similar situation.” One question he gets on a fairly regular basis is, do you regret saying during your introductory press conference in Fort Collins that CSU has the potential to get to the Final Four? “I have everything I need to get this program to the Final Four,” says Eustachy. “Moby Arena is being refurbished, including a nice Hall of Fame area. And it really offers a great basketball environment, with the seats starting right next to the court and going straight up. The fans are right on top of the action. Our locker room is being redone. They doubled the budget for this program when I took the job. We’ll have a chartered plane, getting us in and out of road games fast so our kids won’t have to miss class.” He and his wife love living in Colorado. And he thinks recruits will love it, too. “Fort Collins is a great community, in a great location. The Mountain West is known around the country as one of the top six or seven conferences in the nation. It’s a four-bid league (for the NCAA Tournament). I have everything I need here. “Now whether I do it or not is another question.”

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE A 12-step program transformed Larry Eustachy Larry Eustachy’s not the same man that took Iowa State to the Elite Eight in 2000. And he has a 12-step program to thank for it. “I’m very proud of my recovery,” says Eustachy. “I belong to a 12-step program. My recovery starts with my higher power, that I call God. Thankfully, the program has allowed me to recover from the Iowa State situation and continue to help young men.” It also has completely changed his perspective on life. “I played God for a long time,” says Eustachy with blunt honesty. “I thought I was driving the bus. I had no idea God was driving the bus and I was a passenger.” The 12-step philosophy has helped him deal with the pressures that come with being a Division I head basketball coach. “Every day I try to focus on the things I can control and let God take care of the rest,” says Eustachy. While E ustachy believes he’s changed as a man, he doesn’t think he’s changed as a coach. “I’m more humble,” says Eustachy. “I used to walk around like those coaches who think their middle name is Naismith. Otherwise, I coach the same way. I haven’t changed a bit. I’m better, for sure, because I get more rest and I’m healthier. But my style hasn’t changed. I’ve always been brutally honest and direct with players, and I still am.” Eustachy’s current day-to-day approach to situations that arise in his life is much different than it was during his Iowa State days. “I believe God puts challenges in front of me to see how I’ll handle them,” says Eustachy. “If I remember who’s driving the bus and follow God’s lead, I’ll handle them a lot better than I used to. “If what happened at the end of my time at Iowa State hadn’t happened, I probably never would’ve come to that realization. It has definitely been a blessing.”


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THE BACK PAIGE

An Epic Journey

The Nuggets have a challenging road ahead By Woody Paige

W

ho put together this schedule for the Nuggets—Hannibal’s brother-in-law, Hasdrubal? At least, Hannibal assembled about 40,000 foot soldiers, 12,000 horsemen and some 50 war elephants when he took a road trip from Cartagena, through the Pyrenees and the Alps, and on to Cannae. The Nuggets have Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee, and old warhorse George Karl for “The Road Schedule From Hell.” The Nuggets play only five home games in November, and just five more in December. Karl’s objective every season is to win 10 games a month. That cause will be very difficult given that the Nuggets confront 22 road games before New Year’s Eve. The Nuggets will have played more than half their road games when they meet the Clippers at The Can on Jan. 1. The team’s slogan should be: Just hang in there ‘til 2013. The good news is there will be a ton of home games left. From New Year’s Day until Feb. 7, the Nuggets play 15 of 18 games in Denver. The next bad news is there’s a stretch from Feb. 9-27 when the Nuggets play at Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Brooklyn (BROOKLYN!), Washington, Charlotte and Portland, interspersed with just two home games against the Celtics and the Lakers. That’s no bargain. Good thing February is a short month. I mention the schedule prominently because the Nuggets will be streaky this season—with serious winning streaks (maybe even 10 games) and a couple of dubious losing streaks (perhaps a half-dozen in a row). They could bounce all over the standings – dipping to seventh in the conference, rising to second at times. Where will they end up? How about third? Frankly, the Nuggets still are not as strong as the first six players of the 104

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defending conference champion Thunder (although it may now only be the first five, after the shipping of James Harden weakened that herd), not as heralded and top-heavy with the starting five of the Lakers—who have added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash—and not quite as team-skilled, and well-coached, as

The NuggeTs have Ty lawsoN, daNilo galliNari, aNdre iguodala, KeNNeTh faried aNd Javale mCgee, aNd old warhorse george Karl for “The road sChedule from hell.” the Spurs. They could nudge San Antonio for third in the West, but they might not be capable of holding off the Clippers for fourth. Yet, the Nuggets should be deeper than everybody else in the West, and they should be able to run most everybody out of the building when they finally do get to play at home. They will be a playoff team with a first-round home-court advantage. Third would be a good spot to place; seventh would be a terrible place to finish. They don’t want to catch L.A. or Oak City right away. I’m not as optimistic as experts who work for another one of my employers—a prominent TV network. ESPN The Magazine predicts that the Nuggets will have the best record in the NBA’s Western Conference. ESPN.com picked them second. I thought I was being bright and buoyant by thinking third. Presented with the Marquis de Sade schedule, I don’t see it. Presented with the Thunder and its ride to the NBA Finals, I don’t feel it.

The NuggeTs will have played more ThaN half Their road games wheN They meeT The Clippers aT The CaN oN JaN. 1. The Team’s slogaN should be: JusT haNg iN There ‘Til 2013. Presented with the formidable Sir Kobe Quintet in Los Angeles— Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace—I don’t get it. The Nuggets have to go hard. The Nuggets had their own great addition from Philly in A.I.—not Allen Iverson this time, but Andre Iguodala. I’ll take his vowels, his

shooting, his court sense and smarts, and his defense. Then, there’s Lawson, Gallinari, Faried and the three-headed monster Ghidorah at center—JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos. Potentially promising. Lawson has to become more of a court leader; Gallinari has to elevate his overall game; Faried has to develop an offensive move or four; the three centers have to give the Nuggets 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, and Iguodala has to fit his all-around game in with the Nuggets. Denver could be very special, though, because their bench beats all. The two backup centers (McGee, especially), Andre Miller (Andre & Andre), Corey Brewer, a healthy Wilson Chandler, and just maybe Anthony Randolph and Frenchman Evan Fournier. No other team is as multi-layered. Hannibal would be thrilled to take this team—and a few elephants— on the road.


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Mile High Sports Magazine: November 2012