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“There was no put on with him.” Stu Lantz, the Spectrum SportsNet color commentator said of his 15-year broadcast partner. “When you’re genuine, people see it. You can’t hide genuine. You can fake it all you want, but you can’t hide it. He would just make you feel so at home, plus he was in everybody’s living room, you know? With 82 games, he’s in your living room 82 times a year. You just fell in love with the guy.” Now, Chick’s no longer here, he sits above the western sideline at the highest point, but somehow, he’s still here. Really, even Stu says, “Every time I step into the arena, I think of him.”
Robert Horry remembers this time as a player with Chick by his side, “A lot of times when I was there, he wasn’t feeling good but he worked through it. He had to have his wife, Marge, come on the road with him. And think about it, most people would say ‘Nah, I’m just going to do home games.’ No, not Chick. He said ‘I love this game; I’m going to keep going.’ He started bringing his wife with him and he started battling all the illnesses. He kept going.”
A painful paradox has hit the Denver area over the last three seasons. It is boom times for the Nuggets. This may be the franchise’s golden generation, with a possible title contender fronted by the league’s MVP. So many Nuggets fans, however, cannot see any of their games — caught in the middle of a staring contest between a billion-dollar corporation and a billionaire family. They have been buffeted by industry trends that may undo the status quo for sports on television soon enough. The network that broadcasts their games, Altitude Sports, has been in stalemate with Comcast and Dish Network since September 2019. Only three teams have more wins than the Nuggets since the start of the 2019-20 season, but unless the fans have been at Ball Arena for them, it’s likely they have seen few, if any, of them.
Ultimately, this may force the league to find new ways to deliver games to its fans in their home markets — where NBA League Pass is blacked out — and to embrace in-market streaming options at a time when both the NBA and cable operators are both looking for ways to keep young fans tuned in. Silver has already floated the idea of creating streaming options for viewers who are not subscribed to any cable or satellite package so they can watch their home team. It will be a hard problem to figure out as a significant portion of local revenue for NBA franchises comes from RSNs — one league source estimated it to be 70 percent — and will surely invite a fight from both RSNs and cable operators, who may see another competitor trying to eat into their take.
In its 2019 lawsuit against Comcast, Altitude said the provider has an “estimated 92 percent market share among cable television providers (in the Denver metropolitan area) and a market share of approximately 57 percent among all MVPD providers.” One independent source with knowledge of the issue claims that some 47 percent of all homes in Denver subscribed to Comcast and about 10 percent to Dish Network.