Maybe you've been to Denver before, maybe you haven't. It's one of those "Oh, it was nice" cities. As in, "Hey, weren't you in Denver for that wedding/meeting/Voltron convention?"
"Yeah, I was. Just got back yesterday."
"Cool. How was it?"
"Oh, it was nice."
Oh, it was nice.
Despite having four major professional sports teams (we're giving hockey the benefit of the doubt here), numerous big-time colleges within an hour or two (Colorado, Colorado State, Denver University, Air Force, Colorado College), and numerous other "fringe" professional teams (Colorado Crush in Arena League, the Mammoth of professional indoor lacrosse, etc.) Colorado, and, especially, Denver, has never had much of a cultural impact on sports. Or anywhere else for that matter.
That may have all changed within the past few months, however. The Real World: Denver house is pictured above, and although I haven't watched much of it, I've heard through the grapevine that it may be the most deliciously slutty installment yet. They seem to get more juvenile with each passing year (can you imagine somebody now going through the realization of having HIV or AIDS?), and all that I've heard of RW: Denver so far is that there is much hot-tubbing, making out, and making of the fucky-sucky. Which, for such a whitebread, whitehorse town, isn't much of a bad thing.
Think about it. When was the last time something cool came out of Denver, or had Denver/Colorado as its epicenter? For all intents and purposes, New York and Los Angeles always have been and always will be the engine that drives our cultural SUVs. But even Seattle had the coffee/grunge music influence. Miami has the beaches, Cuban influence and Dwyane Wade, which is a force in and of itself. Chicago has always been the Second City, but it's Second for a reason: good shit has always come out of Chicago, and probably will for a while. Boston has its immense Irish influence, which can be seen in at least four movies each year. Detroit, while looking like Baghdad on crack, will always be gritty enough to give us hip-hop and garage rock stars. Las Vegas is, well, Las Vegas, and other cities (Baltimore, Washington D.C., Houston, New Orleans, San Diego, St. Louis, Atlanta, etc.) always have one or two extremely unique things that keep them on the peak of one cultural mountain.
Speaking of which, that's all Denver has. Mountains. Skiing. Snowboarding. And even Utah has some places, like Park City, that rival many of Colorado's slopes (Vail and Aspen notwithstanding, obviously). But it's the only pastime where 99% of the participants are the exact color of the surface on which they are participating. A hobby that costs about as much as a new big-screen plasma TV to indulge in for a weekend. When I tell people that I grew up in the Denver suburbs and don't ski or snowboard, they look at me like Komodo dragons are crawling out of my nostrils. What? You don't ski? Are you crazy?
No, I was just poor. Sorry. I will now dunk this basketball, purely because I'm 6-foot-5. (I've got virtually no hops, by the way.)
My senior class in high school had between 250 and 300 people when we graduated. I can honestly say that about 5 were black. Probably 40% was white, 40% hispanic, and most of the rest asian. My high school certainly was not indicative of the entire state (Chauncey Billups graduated from East High in Denver, which is predominantly black), but outside of the main part of Denver, it was a decent snapshot. And once you get into the foothills and mountains, it's pretty heavily caucasian.
Basically, white people do not drive popular culture. It's true. And the town has certainly had some stars, but I don't remember people going out and getting front teeth extensions just to be like John Elway.
But now Denver matters. To be quite honest, there's not one person who knows, sufficiently one way or the other, how the trade for Allen Iverson will work on the court. Iverson could defer to Carmelo Anthony, or he could take tons of ill-advised shots, as he's done in the past. Maybe he'll be invigorated playing the Nuggets' up-tempo, fast-break style, or maybe it will just make his (already sub-par) defense that much worse. Maybe they'll win a championship. Maybe they won't.
No matter what happens now, though, people will be talking about the Nuggets. Aside from Melo jerseys, which have sold pretty well all over the country, Iverson powder-blue #3 Nuggets jerseys will be flying off the shelves this holiday season. Kids in inner cities across the nation will be saying, "Yo, did you peep that Denver game last night?" even if they can't find Denver on a map.
And for the city that brought you Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, well, that ain't such a bad thing, either.