Riff-raff at the Nuggets game | VailDaily.com
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Riff-raff at the Nuggets game

John Poole
Vail CO, Colorado

If you have never experienced sitting in the top row of a sports arena, I have to recommend it. Not because of the blurred view of the players or the uncontrollable nose bleeds (although both pleasant), but for the spectacular feeling of being barely part of a professional sporting event. And if it’s a playoff professional sporting event, the feeling of being upscale post-season riff-raff is far superior to regular season riff-raff status.

Fortunately, my acclimation to high altitude kept the nose bleeds to a minimum. However, my near-sightedness remained the same on the mainland. If they offered discounted Lasik eye surgery performed by Nuggets cheerleaders exclusively for the 300 level of the Pepsi Center, I’m sure they would get some takers. If they gave a guarantee of clear vision by at least the second half, I’d give it a shot.

I was able to score some of the obviously few remaining tickets to Game 3 of the NBA playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs. Denver has certainly been in dire need of a championship caliber basketball team and this was more than evident by the ecstatic crowd and extraordinary number of people at this game. I didn’t think the Nuggets could fill the gymnasium of Cherry Creek High School, let alone the Pepsi Center, but a tied NBA playoff series with a dynamic duo like A.I. and Mello drew a crowd faster than the recent Gwen Stefani concert. There is no doubt (I couldn’t resist) that the Mile High City is more than ready for a legitimate playoff contender. Unfortunately, the Nuggets looked more like the back-up singers for Ms. Stefani than an NBA playoff team on this particular night.

It seems like Denver has always placed basketball in the back of its professional sporting mind. There is no doubt (that was an accident) that the Colorado Avalanche who are members of the suffering National Hockey League are more popular than the Nuggets, but I would even argue that the Rockies who have been a destitute franchise for years command more attention. I’m attributing this Nugget craze to an early season trade that brought the most expensive 165-pound athlete in sports up 5,241 feet in elevation.

After growing up on the “other side” of Washington D.C. and playing two years for Georgetown, Allen Iverson was drafted No. 1 in 1996 by the Philadelphia 76ers and began a career of cross-over dribbles, 50-point explosions, vicious lane beatings, and the occasional ill-advised fade away. And though his many tattoos and overall demeanor are often perceived as thuggish, I’m a believer in the wholeheartedness of A.I. Have a listen to one of his post-game interviews and it’s tough to not like the guy. Have a look at one of his games and you’re an instant fan.

Now that Denver has more reason than the Avalanche and Gwen Stefani to fill the Pepsi Center, basketball enthusiasm has emerged. And if you sit in the top row, it’s even better.

John Poole, an Eagle-Vail resident, writes a biweekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poolejohn@gmail.com.


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