Once a fixture on the Nuggets’ bench, Steve Hess is busily fulfilling a new vision

*This story appears in the May issue of Mile High Sports Magazine. Subscribe here!

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THURSDAY. MARCH 15, 2018. PEPSI CENTER. NUGGETS VS. PISTONS.

Steve Hess is not on the Nuggets’ bench. That’s not unusual, at least if one only considers the 2017-18 NBA season. If the past two decades are considered, however, it’s pretty strange. Steve Hess has always been on the bench. And “on” – with specific regard to Hess – means standing, shouting, never sitting still. No matter the setting, Hess was, is and always will be “bought in.”

As odd as it is to not see Hess on the Nuggets’ bench, it’s almost more bizarre to see him on the court at halftime. That’s when he usually works with players back in the locker room. Stretching them out. Assessing their immediate physical condition. Determining the exact thing their bodies might need at that exact moment – all in the spirit of winning a basketball game, so long as the body is willing and able. And if by chance it’s not up for the task, Hess is the first one to ask: Why?

But there he is. Standing at center court. Not working with a player. Not stretching anyone out. In fact, it’s dark. There’s a spotlight. And Steve Hess is standing under it.

It’s his night.

The Denver Nuggets are honoring Hess. Rightfully so. After 21 years as the team’s strength and conditioning coach, the franchise has officially declared Hess to be one of the “50 Most Influential People in Nuggets’ History.” As such, the halftime ceremony is 100 percent designed to honor Hess. The massive video board inside Pepsi Center reveals that the weight room adjacent to the Nuggets’ practice court

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