As Nuggets barreled toward playoffs, RiNo businessman scrambled to save fan blog

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets runs the offense against the Phoenix Suns during the second quarter in Phoenix on Friday, May 5, 2023. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Andrew Feinstein runs ReelWorks, an event venue in RiNo that had its best year ever financially in 2022.

In the past half decade, he’s sold multiple properties nearby, paving the way for development that has changed the neighborhood.

And earlier this year, Feinstein had an unexpected issue to address: the Denver Nuggets fan blog that he launched 15 years ago, which he hadn’t written for in seven years, was about to be dropped by the national media outlet that had been hosting it.

Andrew Feinstein

“I had three choices: let it die, take it over myself … And then option three was find a home for it where I know the integrity of the brand will not only be kept, but elevated,” he said.

So as the Nuggets barreled toward the playoffs — Game 6 of the conference semifinals is Thursday night — Feinstein scrambled to find a new partner that would host DenverStiffs.com. In March, he reached a deal with Mile High Sports, which took over the site as previous partner SB Nation bowed out. 

“It winds up being a really nice complement to what we do,” Mile High Sports President and CEO Nate Lundy said.

Feinstein, CEO of EXDO Group Cos., grew up going to Nuggets games with his parents, and created the site in 2008, when he was living in Los Angeles and working as a cartoonist and animator. It was the peak era of blogging, and he called the site FireGeorgeKarl.com, after the team’s then-coach.

It wasn’t really personal, Feinstein said, rather more an attempt “to ignite a fire under the team.” But he regrets going after someone publicly.

Plus, “no one takes you seriously when that is the name of your website,” he said.

Feinstein quickly changed the name to DenverStiffs.com, after what coach Doug Moe called his players in the 1980s.

“It was a self-deprecating term of endearment,” Feinstein said.

He said he struck the deal with SB Nation, now part of Vox Media, around 2010. The company was trying to bring the most successful fan blog for every pro sport into its fold. In exchange for a modest sum that could be used to pay writers, sites got a good-looking home on the Internet, an SEO boost, access to professional photos and someone to handle the advertising side. 

“All I had to worry about was writing,” Feinstein said.

Denver Stiffs did things like host the “Stiffys,” an online-only NBA awards ceremony with categories like “Worst Rookie of the Year.” But mostly, it was a day-in-and-day-out place where the team’s biggest fans could comment with their thoughts on the latest game or trade. A thread for Sunday’s Game 4 against the Suns, for instance, attracted 1,300 comments.

Feinstein said he stopped writing for the site around 2016 as he spent more time on business and family matters. But others kept the site going.

SB Nation’s interest in its fan blogs has waned in recent years, however. The company ended its affiliation with most of its hockey and Major League Soccer sites earlier this year, according to the sports news site Defector. And SB Nation agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement in 2020 after some of its bloggers sued over unfair wages, although Feinstein wasn’t involved in that case.

Feinstein said Denver Stiffs wasn’t the only NBA fan site to be dropped by the company this year.

Mile High Sports started as a magazine in 2002, added a talk radio component in 2007 and now has a website that covers Colorado’s major professional and college teams. The company acquired Colorado Preps, which covers high school sports, last year.

CEO Lundy said Denver Stiffs is at its heart “a community of fans” that meshes well with the company’s more typical Nuggets coverage. It’s the first time the company is really embracing comments on its website, as opposed to social media.

“We get very interactive on social, but not on the dot-com itself,” Lundy said.

The alliance in some way harkens back to the earlier days of his blog, Feinstein said, because he used to occasionally contribute to Mile High magazine and appear on radio shows run by current Mile High staff.

At this point, Feinstein said, Denver Stiffs is mostly focused on just getting through the season. After that, he, Lundy and Denver Stiffs site manager Brandon “Skip” Ewing plan to think more about the future of the site.

That season, however, will hopefully keep going for a team that has never won a championship.

Talking on Friday morning, when the Nuggets were up 2-0 against the Suns, Feinstein predicted Denver would win the Finals in six games against the Celtics.

“This could be the year,” he said.

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets runs the offense against the Phoenix Suns during the second quarter in Phoenix on Friday, May 5, 2023. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Andrew Feinstein runs ReelWorks, an event venue in RiNo that had its best year ever financially in 2022.

In the past half decade, he’s sold multiple properties nearby, paving the way for development that has changed the neighborhood.

And earlier this year, Feinstein had an unexpected issue to address: the Denver Nuggets fan blog that he launched 15 years ago, which he hadn’t written for in seven years, was about to be dropped by the national media outlet that had been hosting it.

Andrew Feinstein

“I had three choices: let it die, take it over myself … And then option three was find a home for it where I know the integrity of the brand will not only be kept, but elevated,” he said.

So as the Nuggets barreled toward the playoffs — Game 6 of the conference semifinals is Thursday night — Feinstein scrambled to find a new partner that would host DenverStiffs.com. In March, he reached a deal with Mile High Sports, which took over the site as previous partner SB Nation bowed out. 

“It winds up being a really nice complement to what we do,” Mile High Sports President and CEO Nate Lundy said.

Feinstein, CEO of EXDO Group Cos., grew up going to Nuggets games with his parents, and created the site in 2008, when he was living in Los Angeles and working as a cartoonist and animator. It was the peak era of blogging, and he called the site FireGeorgeKarl.com, after the team’s then-coach.

It wasn’t really personal, Feinstein said, rather more an attempt “to ignite a fire under the team.” But he regrets going after someone publicly.

Plus, “no one takes you seriously when that is the name of your website,” he said.

Feinstein quickly changed the name to DenverStiffs.com, after what coach Doug Moe called his players in the 1980s.

“It was a self-deprecating term of endearment,” Feinstein said.

He said he struck the deal with SB Nation, now part of Vox Media, around 2010. The company was trying to bring the most successful fan blog for every pro sport into its fold. In exchange for a modest sum that could be used to pay writers, sites got a good-looking home on the Internet, an SEO boost, access to professional photos and someone to handle the advertising side. 

“All I had to worry about was writing,” Feinstein said.

Denver Stiffs did things like host the “Stiffys,” an online-only NBA awards ceremony with categories like “Worst Rookie of the Year.” But mostly, it was a day-in-and-day-out place where the team’s biggest fans could comment with their thoughts on the latest game or trade. A thread for Sunday’s Game 4 against the Suns, for instance, attracted 1,300 comments.

Feinstein said he stopped writing for the site around 2016 as he spent more time on business and family matters. But others kept the site going.

SB Nation’s interest in its fan blogs has waned in recent years, however. The company ended its affiliation with most of its hockey and Major League Soccer sites earlier this year, according to the sports news site Defector. And SB Nation agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement in 2020 after some of its bloggers sued over unfair wages, although Feinstein wasn’t involved in that case.

Feinstein said Denver Stiffs wasn’t the only NBA fan site to be dropped by the company this year.

Mile High Sports started as a magazine in 2002, added a talk radio component in 2007 and now has a website that covers Colorado’s major professional and college teams. The company acquired Colorado Preps, which covers high school sports, last year.

CEO Lundy said Denver Stiffs is at its heart “a community of fans” that meshes well with the company’s more typical Nuggets coverage. It’s the first time the company is really embracing comments on its website, as opposed to social media.

“We get very interactive on social, but not on the dot-com itself,” Lundy said.

The alliance in some way harkens back to the earlier days of his blog, Feinstein said, because he used to occasionally contribute to Mile High magazine and appear on radio shows run by current Mile High staff.

At this point, Feinstein said, Denver Stiffs is mostly focused on just getting through the season. After that, he, Lundy and Denver Stiffs site manager Brandon “Skip” Ewing plan to think more about the future of the site.

That season, however, will hopefully keep going for a team that has never won a championship.

Talking on Friday morning, when the Nuggets were up 2-0 against the Suns, Feinstein predicted Denver would win the Finals in six games against the Celtics.

“This could be the year,” he said.

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