Published: June 8, 2013
DENVER - Let's talk birthdays.
On May 7, Joshua Walton Kroenke turned 33. In the same month, he hired the greatest captain in Avalanche history and the greatest goaltender in NHL history. One month later, he fired a Nuggets coach who will be in the basketball Hall of Fame. He also fired a hockey coach.
"It's been a busy month, obviously," Josh said.
So what did you do on your 33rd birthday?
The bizarro life of the most powerful 30-something in Colorado just got hectic. It was that way before, too, but these titanic power shifts were the first time, really, we associated major change in the Avs and Nuggets with the man known at Pepsi Center by one name:
Josh is the, yes, 33-year-old president and governor of the Nuggets. Josh is also the president and governor of the Avalanche.
Over the past month we learned plenty about the future of both franchises: Masai Ujiri, George Karl and Joe Sacco won't be here; Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy will be, along with a Nuggets GM and coach to be named later.
Most important in the big picture, we learned to dismiss the notion Josh is simply a figurehead for his father's Kroenke Sports Enterprise, a kid with a hefty title but little pull.
We learned who is - and will be for the next decade or three - calling the shots at Pepsi Center.
He's living a 30-something's dream, running an NBA and an NHL franchise, with the basketball and hockey hopes of an entire region riding on his bold decisions.
"I'm never been one to back down from a challenge my entire life," Josh said. "I think this is definitely a challenge, but one that I'm more than happy to accept."
I just wanted to know what Josh studied in college.
"Once I started doing math problems where there wasn't a number involved, I thought, you know, when am I going to use this going forward?" Josh said of his classwork at Missouri. "So I shifted over to a consumer family economics major, where you learn a lot about finance without a lot of the elite calculus."
That elite calculus always got me, too.
I switched to words.
"What I did in college is not that different from what you probably did."
Well ... we won't go there.
There's no escaping the stigma inherent with coming from billionaire bloodlines, that Josh is simply the rich kid granted the ultimate birthday present: control over a pair of pro sports teams - with no repercussions if he fails.
That's not the Josh I've seen. I've seen a man too proud of his family's name to let them fail.
I've seen a man sincerely troubled by the perception he's just a kid racing around the pro-sports neighborhood with dad's car keys. He's bothered - too much, I think - by the idea he's just a former Mizzou ballplayer who doesn't give a lick about hockey.
"I'm well aware of any outside perceptions. The frustrating part is that it's not true," Josh said.
"When I talk to Josh, they want this team back to where we were," said Sakic, the de facto GM of the Avs. "Quite honestly, if I didn't have that belief, I wouldn't have done this."
I asked Josh if he's watched the NBA playoffs ever since the Nuggets laid an egg against the Warriors.
"I watch them every now and then," he said. "I've been watching the NHL playoffs, actually."
Just not in the penthouse on the top floor of Pepsi Center.
"I don't sleep in it very much," Josh told me. "I always say that no matter how old you are, no matter how wonderful the place is, living with your parents is still living with your parents."
Don't be fooled by the snazzy cufflinks: There's still a wide-eyed kid in there somewhere.
"At league (meetings), I get to sit next to Mark Cuban, because Denver and Dallas are next to each other," Josh said.
Friendly note to Josh: Your gold wristwatch is just as blingy as Cuban's, your sway in your city just as influential.
Your peers just have a few more birthdays than you.
The man who would be Masai
Color me surprised if Pete D'Alessandro, the VP of operations with the Nuggets, is not promoted to Ujiri's old position as general manager.
I expect that position stays in-house.
"I don't think anything happens over the past three years without Pete," Kroenke said.
Soak it in
It is fashionable, and too easy, to question the Rockies and their two decades without a division title.
But we can't lose sight of excellence when it rolls into Coors Field. What we're seeing from Troy Tulowitzki is an MVP-type season that demands attention each time Jay-Z thumps his walk-up song.
"He's doing things (for a shortstop) I haven't seen - maybe ever," manager Walt Weiss allowed.
Baseball's best shortstop leads the National League in slugging percentage (.637 entering Saturday), ranks second in batting average (.348) and RBIs (49) and third in homers (15).
"When I was growing up as a shortstop, if you hit too many homers, they moved you somewhere else," Weiss joked.
Tulo's up? Tune in.