2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Nuggets: Spectacular ineptitude

    Sat, February 23, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Ah, maybe the Denver Nuggets should have traded for Ron Artest.

    The Nuggets somehow found a way to allow the Chicago Bulls to score 135 points in a loss Friday night. The Bulls had scored 101 points by the end of the third quarter. Denver’s defense was spectacularly awful.

    The Sacramento Kings had dangled Artest, a defensive specialist, in front of the Nuggets for weeks, but Denver finally said no because the price tag was too high. I still think trading Linas Kleiza for Artest would have been foolish.

    But the Nuggets must discover a touch of Artest’s defensive fire. There’s no way the Nuggets can win a first-round playoff series – hey, there’s no way they’ll even make the playoffs in the rugged West – if they play such lousy defense.

  • Pizza and Roger Clemens

    Fri, February 22, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    While driving along Academy Boulevard Thursday, I glanced at the sign at Old Chicago Pizza and saw this:

    “We never served Roger Clemens any pizza.”

  • The greatest Bronco pass-catcher

    Fri, February 15, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Rod Smith had no business becoming the greatest pass receiver in Denver Broncos history. He played quarterback in college. He wasn’t drafted. He had a bad knee.

    Didn’t matter. He willed himself into becoming a force. He was a key member of two Super Bowl champions. He leaves the Broncos as the best wide receiver in the team’s history, and it isn’t even close.

    Smith’s final seasons were frustrating. He kept talking about another victory parade in downtown Denver, swore the day was just around the bend when the Broncos would again rule the NFL. He walked around the Broncos locker room wearing the white robe he was given at the 1999 Super Bowl. He talked, constantly, to his teammates about the overwhelming joy of winning the title.

    He never quite reached the peak again, although he came close in the 2005 season when the Broncos traveled to the AFC title game, where they lost to Pittsburgh.

    He walks away reluctantly, taking his bad hip and his matchless competitiveness into retirement.

  • Hockey’s ultimate villain

    Wed, February 13, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Todd Bertuzzi returned to Colorado for the first time this season. The man who ended, with stunningly vicious precision, the hockey career of Steve Moore was booed by Avalanche fans each time he took the ice, but the booing lacked the passion of years past. Bertuzzi and his Anaheim Ducks skated away with a 2-1 victory.

    You must remember this: On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi assaulted Moore on the ice in Vancouver. Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae. Hockey fans often chuckle about the antics of ice goons, but this was a moment that will live forever in hockey infamy. It was the game at its absolute worst.

    Almost any crime can be forgotten, or at least any crime can start to fade from memory. Bertuzzi has always played the role of villain with great skill. He’s a scowling, growling presence on and off the ice. He took the game to a new low, nearly took a man’s life, but now he earns a fat paycheck and listens to only a smattering of jeering.

    Hassling Bertuzzi forever may be pointless, but hating what he did – if not sinking to hating him – is the right approach. Our games can turn savage, can bring out the worst in our souls instead of the best. The image of Moore, motionless on the ice, his neck broken, his hockey future shattered, should always stick with fans and players and coaches.

    That way, such savagery will never happen again.

  • Sports lists

    Sat, February 9, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Last Sunday, the Gazette offered my selections for the top 10 NFL quarterbacks of all time, and this list inspired about a dozen responses from readers. I didn’t place Bart Starr on my list, and several readers said he not only belonged on the all-time honor roll, but he belonged at the very top.

    My list, after all, was only my list. That’s a good chunk of the fun of walking through life as a sports fan. You have your list. I have my list. You might think Walter Payton is the best running back in history. I might think Jim Brown reigns. There’s no way – absolutely none – to settle the discussion. For me, talking about sports, comparing views, engaging in a friendly argument, is more rewarding, and more fun, than watching sports.

    And by the way, for the Starr fans out there, I place the leader of the Packers dynasty at No. 12 on my list, right behind Fran Tarkenton and just ahead of Roger Staubach.

  • Goodbye to Bobby Knight

    Tue, February 5, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Bobby Knight is one of those towers of modern American sport. You might like him. You might despise him. You can’t ignore him. He carried around an outlandishly huge personality. He was blessed with basketball genius, but cursed with the paranoid, everybody-is-out-to-get-me personality of a teen-ager.

    A couple stories about my encounters, or lack of encounters, with Knight.

    In my former sports writing life, I covered Syracuse University basketball from 1985 to 1998. In 1987, as you probably remember, Indiana’s Keith Smart hit a last-second shot to defeat SU in the national final. The next fall, I arranged an interview with Knight at his office in Bloomington. I knew about Knight’s reputation as being hostile to the media, so I took great care to make sure the interview was an absolute guarantee. Because I wanted to bring my wife and children along, I drove all the way from Syracuse to Bloomington.

    Knight refused to see me. I did enjoy a long interview with Smart, who is one of the better people I’ve met in my job, but Knight never agreed to sit down for a talk. He was, apparently, in a bad mood.

    A year after my non-interview, SU and Indiana met again in a game at Madison Square Garden. This was the night SU’s Orangemen dropped, for the first time ever in Knight’s career, more than 100 points on the Hoosiers. Knight was raging with anger during the game.

    After the game, I was walking to the interview room and passed Indiana’s locker room. The door opened, and for an instant I could hear Knight’s voice. He was screaming – and screaming is the right word – at his players in a voice I never will forget. It was only an instant before the door closed, but I never – ever – will forget the high-volume rage.

    I know several people – former Air Force coach Hank Egan is one – who say Knight is a great, loyal friend. They say Knight is different off the court. He’s funny. He’s a great story-teller. He’s perceptive in his views of history.

    Maybe so. I just know the man has impressive, and terrifying, lung power.