Tis the season. Basketball season. NBA games galore on Dec. 25. A quintuple header. Our Northwest Division-leading Nuggets will pluck the Pelicans Christmas night. Santa and ABC/ESPN are good to us on their big day. The rest of this regular season, we get lumps of coal from Comcast and Altitude Sports.
Unless you have DirecTV or Dish, or pay big bucks at the Pepsi Center, you’ve not seen a lot of Denver games this year. We can’t watch on cable monopoly Comcast, a sickening situation expertly explained in The Colorado Sun. Why now, when our Nugs are great?
It’s the same for Avs fans, but honestly, missing hockey I can handle. I played NCAA D3 hoops at Colorado College where D1 hockey reigned supreme. Those Tigers got full rides, plane trips, sellouts and pretty girls. We got small crowds and long van trips to surrounding states. But we loved playing hoop.
Colorado lacked pro basketball until I was 12, but we had the annual AAU Championship in Denver. Some of those AAU players became NBA stars. In the opening rounds, Dad would take us downtown to Denver’s Auditorium Arena for quintuple headers. My old man loved it and I did, too.
When I got to Hill Junior High, it was the inception of Denver’s forced busing for desegregation. While sometimes contentious, I got to play hoop daily against talented players from other parts of town. Out of necessity, my two-hand set shot gave way to the beginnings of a sweet modern jumper.
Hill prepped me well for high school hoop at George Washington. We were ranked No. 1 my junior season with a team that dominated the Denver Prep League. We were a diverse team of four blacks, four whites and four Jews. Many of our games were at the Auditorium Arena.
Our Patriot dream team collapsed at the Denver Coliseum at the 1973 State tournament. Two starters were suspended right before game time. We lost in the first round of the Elite Eight to an inferior Regis team that got hot and lucky.
We overachieved my senior year, defeating Greeley West at Moby Gym to advance again to the Coliseum for State. Eventual champions Bear Creek beat us and held me down. But I got my revenge. Twenty years later, I married a Bear Creek beauty.
It was beyond exciting to compete in the same arenas where Denver’s fledgling pro team played. The Denver Rockets were born in 1967, chasing away the AAU tourney. The red, white and blue ABA ball was special. The three-point shot was sensational. There were fights almost every night. And the best part were certain Auditorium Arena ushers who’d let kids in for a palmed dollar! YOW, we had big fun!
We’d get there early and hang out near the playing floor. Once, my friend Freddie Freis and I persuaded Lonnie Wright (a CSU grad who played pro football and basketball) to give us a real leather ABA game ball. Another time, I had visiting star Rick Barry autograph the signature line of my DPS bus card.
Basketball’s a magnificent meritocracy, and the ultimate team game. The ball doesn’t care who shot it. As a power forward, I was dependent on others for passes. To this day, many of my closest friends are guards who fed me the ball. Even in our sixties, we remember. I’ve been thinking about that Beatles’ song lately: Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?
Some basketball skills last a lifetime. Want to be a trial lawyer? Play hoop. Put your head on a swivel. Anticipate events. Prepare for your opponent. Play offense and defense. Score points. Lots of points. Hustle. Rebound. Make your teammates better. Entertain the crowd. Try your hardest. Respect the refs. Don’t foul out. Win!
Diversions from disorder in D.C. are vital now. I went to the Xfinity store to complain about Comcast not broadcasting our Nuggets. The nice store manager, Brandon, told me I’d received a credit of $1.25 for a Regional Sports Fee adjustment on my $258.44 monthly bill. Come on, man!
To cancel Comcast, I’d have to aggravate my wife and kids, plus pay a $240 termination fee. Dish and DirecTV offer zero incentives to switch. The Comcast workarounds are numerous, but confusing (see e.g. www.nba4free.com). Use them with this caveat; they may be immoral and illegal. YouTube streams NBA games right after the final buzzer. These amazing abbreviated games show all key plays sequentially, in under 10 minutes, uninterrupted by commercials.
Alas, this Altitude/Comcast dispute is now bogged down in Denver federal court. I miss the clever insights of my pals, Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings. Altitude’s Jason Kosmicki delivers outstanding Nuggets’ play by play on radio, but who listens to radio anymore?
Meanwhile, I can watch LeBron, Kawhi and their LA juggernaut teams almost nightly. Should I switch allegiance? No way. Come serious playoff time, our Nuggies will be on Comcast, including the June 2020 NBA Championship series on ABC. It could happen! Hoop dreams never die.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver Chief Deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C.