2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Bye, bye, Masai: Nuggets lose a good one

    Fri, May 31, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Being a Nuggets fan should come with a lifetime supply of antacid.

    It’s always been odd to me the Nuggets are not listed alongside the Clippers and Cavaliers and other futile franchises of that ilk. In almost four decades of NBA livelihood, the Nuggets are without a championship.

    The news today that Masai Ujiri, the architect of this explosive Nuggets roster, is gone to Canada is another footnote in this unfortunate history. I can’t say enough about Ujiri’s impact on the franchise, particularly when considering Melo’s forced trade.

    Now Ujiri is leaving town.

    If money was the determining factor in Ujiri’s decision, this is a traveling violation that should have been prevented.

    I tend to think the mistake was not made when the Nuggets didn’t match (or exceed) Toronto’s offer… but in the past year, when the Nuggets knew Ujiri’s contract was expiring, and there was nothing put on paper.

    Fair or not, this is a move that supports the perception Kroenke Sports Enterprises won’t pony up when a star is available.

    Make no mistake: Ujiri is a star.

    When the Jazz lost Deron Williams, the Jazz fell from relevancy. When the Magic lost Dwight Howard, the Magic dropped like a bag of dumbbells. The Nuggets lost Carmelo Anthony and Ujiri’s handiwork allowed them to remain a factor in the West.

    It’s an interesting argument to debate who is more valuable: a player like Andre Iguodala, who is owed $15 million next year, or an executive like Ujiri, who reportedly will make $15 over the next five years in Toronto.

    I’ll have to think about it. Right now, the loss of Ujiri should sting the Nuggets fandom enough.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • A disconnect in Boulder? Imagine that…

    Thu, May 30, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Attended Mike Bohn’s press conference in Broomfield today. The soon-to-be-former Buffs AD assembled a list of 95 bullet points (achievements) during his eight-year tenure, took questions on the “why” of his firing and explained what he’ll do with the (eight) lifetime season tickets that came as part of his severance package.

     “Eventually if I come back to the Colorado area,” said Bohn, who grew up in Boulder, indirectly saying he’s going to pursue another AD job somewhere else, “I’ll have tickets.”

    On several occasions, Bohn referenced fundraising. He kept going back to that subject, again and again. That’s because the University of Colorado has used fundraising as the focal point of why Bohn was forced to resign.

    “The insinuation we didn’t have a (fundraising) plan is offensive, at best,” Bohn said.

    In summary: there’s a disconnect between the powers-that-be at CU, again. The administration believes it can find a better fundraiser than Bohn, so the university pushed him out.

    Bohn argued, “We are the No. 1 fundraising unit on the Boulder campus.”

    To me, this whole thing is a Boulder problem; not a Bohn problem. And it’s nothing new; this clash in university philosophies goes back decades.

    I don’t think the question is whether Bohn should or should not have been removed. We’ll find out soon enough.

    The question is: Why is it always so hard to get everyone on the same page in Boulder?

    “I think you’re identifying one of the big challenges we have as an institution here. That’s all of our key constituents being aligned and being onboard,” Bohn said a few months back. “And that’s been a challenge, it appears, for quite some time here.”

    Anyway, those are just a few quick thoughts off the top of my head. Writing more about CU’s issues in Sunday’s Gazette. Hope there is enough space to fit them all in.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Roy a hit (again) with media; will be same with Avs

    Wed, May 29, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Wrote today about Patrick Roy’s return to the Avs. Flanked by Josh Kroenke and Joe Sakic, the great goaltender quelled any fears of employing a rookie NHL coach (with a relatively young roster) by charming the media horde at his press conference.

    “I was surprised no one asked me a question about experience,” Roy said to the masses. “I checked… 100 percent of the coaches who are coaching in the NHL right now were rookie coaches at one time in their career.”

    Roy always had a way with words — not always a popular trait among his opponents.

    Here’s a guarantee his spicy personality will elevate the Avalanche among the local media. If coverage was a problem the past few seasons, it won’t be anymore. Roy’s introductory press conference drew Denver’s largest media crowd since the Broncos were in the playoffs. Like he did on the ice, Roy delivered a gem.

    “Yes, those 10 years (after his retirement in 2003) made me change a bit. I’m not saying I love to lose; don’t get me wrong. That will never happen,” he said. “But at the same time I realized that we have to be honest and fair with each other. Sometimes you have to tell the truth to the players.”

    I asked a couple players — Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Paul Stastny — how Roy’s uber-confidence would play in the locker room. Both said it’s what this outfit needs.

    “Their confidence was pretty beat up last year,” Giguere said. “It was altogether a very difficult year all-around. We can use some of that confidence he’s going to bring.”

    “You’ve got to have that swagger,” Stastny said.

    Love this hire for media reasons. There never will be a dull moment next NHL season.

    Love this hire for Avalanche reasons. Can you envision Roy failing? I can’t.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • By the numbers: Colorado sports back to the future

    Thu, May 23, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    John Elway, Joe Sakic, Walt Weiss (and Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla) and now Patrick Roy.

    Notice a theme?

    These are your Colorado sports leaders — same as they ever were.

    Just finished a column for Friday on the Avs hiring Roy as their head coach. Here’s what it looks like when you breakdown the Denver playing careers of the executives and coaches (Elway, Sakic, Weiss, Roy) who now command the Broncos, Avalanche and Rockies:

    -41 seasons in Colorado

    -Thirty-four All-Star (or Pro Bowl) games overall

    -Eight world championships

    -Three Hall of Fame inductions

    Will it work with Roy? I think so, in time, but we’ll have to wait to know for sure.

    One thing’s certain: It’s 90′s Night at a venue near you.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Peyton Manning: Good thing Broncos aren’t golfers

    Tue, May 21, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Let’s leave the golf trash-talk to Tiger and Sergio.

    The Broncos aren’t built for it.

    Monday at Dove Valley, Peyton Manning was asked about the various “team-building” activities on the Broncos itinerary this offseason. There was the Broncos’ field trip to Coors Field, which ended with Orlando Franklin getting a pie planted in his face.

    There’s also a golf outing. Don’t expect greatness, according to the quarterback.

    “It’s probably a good thing it’s nine holes, not 18,” Peyton Manning said. “There were 40 sets of rental clubs last year, which tells you how many non-golfers we have on this team.”

    So when the Broncos draft Johnny Manziel — at the request of Von Miller — don’t be surprised. It’s a boost for their handicap.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Why the world is in trouble, college sports edition

    Tue, May 14, 2013 by Paul Klee with 1 comment

    I love college basketball recruiting. It’s a guilty pleasure and something I thoroughly enjoy.

    It’s also sick and disturbing, and by disturbing, I mean college sports fans are disturbing. Not all of them, but more than you’d think.

    Case in point: The fallout from Andrew Wiggins’ decision to play his one season of college basketball at Kansas. Wiggins is the top-rated prospect in the country (or two countries, since he’s Canadian). Talked to three college coaches today and each of them still believe he’s the best prospect in any class, at any position, anywhere.

    But you probably already knew that.

    But did you know a legion of college fans — mainly from Kentucky and North Carolina — attacked Wiggins in ways that few, if any, high school kids should be attacked?

    It all happened in a place where reason and rational thought flies out the window: Twitter.

    One tough guy, a North Carolina fan, with the name Ryan Krejci (@RMKrej), told Wiggins to “Eat s***.” Another guy named Dan Sullivan (@sully1230), a Kentucky fan who lives in Lexington, told Wiggins “f*** you man.” A Florida State fan, whose name is Tyler Thomas (@TylerThomasBrew), told Wiggins to suffer a knee injury.

    And those are only a few examples I found with a quick search. Dozens of poor souls used racial slurs, homophobic slurs and various nasty names and directed them at Wiggins.

    All of this supports my theory the value of a college degree decreases every time one of its fans logs onto the Internet.

    Some will say this is only a small sector of fans, that it’s the noisy minority. I disagree. It’s a larger percentage than people want to admit.

    Is this where we are in college sports?

    Sure is.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • Broncos on Air Force’s Ben Garland

    Mon, May 13, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    I remember writing this column about Ben Garland, the former Air Force and Grand Junction standout. At the time, Garland was on the Broncos squad while pursuing of his dream of suiting up for the Broncos on Sundays.

    Garland’s goal has taken a detour: The Broncos have moved him from tackle on the defensive line to guard on the offensive line.

    Here’s what coach John Fox had to say about Garland’s transition during the team’s spring workouts.

    “I know our coaches are very impressed with him. He’s smart. He’s tough,” Fox said. “I think he’s got great willpower to succeed. Regardless of the position, Ben Garland’s going to compete and do well.

    “I think he’s a very powerful guy. He’s a very smart guy. Offense tends to be a little more assignment-oriented, so he’s not going to blow assignments. We’re just trying to give him the best opportunity we can to help him make our football team.”

    Eager to see where this goes for Big Ben. Like we wrote back then, I wouldn’t put it past him to make the Broncos’ 53-man roster.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • On Buffs’ Bill McCartney… life and football, in order

    Wed, May 8, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Bill McCartney, the alltime winningest football coach at Colorado, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame today.

    Actually, he was elected last week and learned Friday he would be in the next Hall of Fame class.

    But that’s beside the point. In talking to the first Coach Mac today in Westminster, I was struck by several things. One, he sincerely treasured the Hall of Fame induction. He’s been out of coaching for almost two decades.

    “To be remembered after such a long absence was a complete surprise to me,” McCartney said.

    Here’s what stuck with me, though: McCartney viewed the Hall of Fame honor as an escape from a mightily difficult time in his life. His wife, Lyndi, died from emphysema in March.

    “I just lost my wife. I’ve been very sad,” he said. “I’ve been isolated.”

    This is a man who built Promise Keepers and abruptly quit coaching football because he felt he wasn’t being the husband he should be.

    “A real man lays down his life for his wife,” McCartney said after speaking with media.

    Hoping to write a column for Friday’s Gazette on McCartney’s message — then and now.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette