Pack up the rest of 2022.
There’s nothing quite like Thursday morning in downtown Denver as our lovely town turned into a full-scale frat party fueled almost entirely by Stanley Cup euphoria.
Heavy emphasis on “almost”.
Jared Bednar — A+
The Grading the Week staff won’t soon forget the biggest moment of Colorado Sports Year 2022.
It came just as the Avalanche Victory Parade reached a feverish grass field a Cale Makar shot from the Colorado Statehouse, with the distinct smell of blunts and beer filling the air.
That’s when the truck carrying Avs coach Jared Bednar, team owner Stan Kroenke and general manager Joe Sakic pulled to a stop at the intersection of Colfax and Broadway.
As the revelers basked in the glow of Bednar’s championship aura, an enthusiastic fan threw what we can only assume was a lukewarm drink at the coach. As if on cue, the Saskatchewan native opened the can, banged it energetically and then threw the rest back to the audience to rousing cheers.
Although we did not conduct a survey of those who lined the parade route at this time, we are almost certain that 99.9% of the people in the area would have voted Bednar mayor of the city on the spot.
And we would have been one of them.
If we only have one dream, it’s that one day we’ll see Nuggets head coach Michael Malone perform these very plays in Colfax and on Broadway.
Whether Calvin Booth, the Nuggets’ new top decision-maker, brought reality closer to reality last week is open to interpretation.
Grading the Week staff stand firmly behind Booth’s decision to send guards Monte Morris and Will Barton to Washington in exchange for defensive aces Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. We’re also intrigued by the signing of versatile winger Bruce Brown. But tint us more than a little skeptical when it comes to bringing in journeyman center DeAndre Jordan – someone who’s clearly a few years from his prime.
While Jordan will only cost the Nuggets the minimum salary of a year-old veteran, we can’t help but wonder why Booth felt compelled to make him that offer minutes into free agency. Couldn’t he have waited to see if a better option presented itself? It’s not like teams are banging on Jordan’s door to add him to their roster.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets’ recent tradition of scrambling to find a suitable backup for two-time MVP Nikola Jokic will live on for another year.
The good news: After Booth got the Joker to agree to a five-year supermax extension, Booth has five more off-seasons to finally get it right.
CU Athletics – D
There are many fathers to the disaster that is USC and UCLA’s double exit from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.
Former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s failed media strategy tops this list. This also applies to the Trojans and Bruins’ own inability to consistently live up to their status as Pac12 Bluebloods.
But there’s some blame that also needs to be thrown at the 10 other universities that currently make up the Pac-12 — including the CU Buffs.
They all stood by far too long as Scott turned a once-proud conference into a national laugh. And almost none of them – apart from Oregon, Utah, and for a short time Stanford and Washington – have been able to fill the void left by the astounding inefficiency of the SoCal schools.
When the Buffs last hired a head football coach, the biggest selling point seemed to be that he already owned a home in Lafayette. There was no vision, no ingenuity, and no obvious way forward. Just a sports department bent on selling the illusion of stability.
If the buffs are to be a part of the perversion that modern collegiate athletics has become, this is the last time that can happen again.