Once a week on Friday mornings, I jump onto an hour-long call with three of the biggest pains-in-the-asses I have ever known or met. They also happen to be my three dearest and oldest friends, the kind of folks that blended more into family than friendship eons ago. We still keep this appointment, come hell or high water, over and above the demands of work, family, and friends, as it means something to us.

We have a common bond.

For dozens of years, we all worked together at a business that really meant something to us. We all met in high school, but the years together forming something strong and beautiful shaped us. Shaped into something cohesive, a sum that was greater than its parts. We had shared in something meaningful, but it had led to a collective experience that still deeply binds us to this day. If I somehow feel out of contact with any one or all of these three for years, I know I could still pick up my phone and ask for the clothes off their back, and would never be denied. We built something that we thought was for the rest of the world, but ended up being something strictly amongst we four that I wouldn’t trade for… well, for anything.

It’s amazing the power a common bond can have.

By the time my grandfather passed, we had grown far apart on a number of fronts. Our politics, outlooks, tastes, and habits were often diametrically opposed. But what we never lost together was baseball. In our toughest moments, we could still sit down and watch and analyze a game. I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have told me of similar experiences with friends or family they’ve lost all other connection with. The college football team, the club rugby team, the something something something team that is the one thing that they and dad/uncle/grandma/long-lost-twice-removed-stepcousin can really dig into any more. It’s the only bond left between them, and they lean into it for all they’re worth, simply to make sure that some tie with someone they love remains.

Sometimes that bond comes between folks who have never met one another, but simply shared experiences across a bar or across a sea.

For the folks literally across a bar, you don’t need to have met before when the team you collectively love brings home their first Stanley Cup in over two decades…

But that shared love, shared experience, need not come in town you share. It need not even come on the same continent, as recently discovered by the brave, brilliant, and hilarious DNVR Nuggets crew, who will be heading home from a glorious jaunt to Serbia this weekend to see Serbia play Greece in international basketball, witness the wonders of Belgrade, and see Sombor, the idyllic birthplace and home of the Nuggets MVP center, Nikola Jokic. While the gents who keep reporting back from the trip seem to be basking in all the beauty and history that Serbia has to offer them, the part that seems to have truly blown them away is the camaraderie, familiarity, and friendship that the people of Serbia have shown them, knowing their shared love of the Joker.

To a person, the crew describes a bond of brotherhood, family, and immediate acceptance from everyone they run into, as they know they share a love of a game and a player whose whole mental makeup and game plan breed sharing, bonding, and a love of the collective. That a lack of a shared language and a 5,600 mile gap is nothing compared to knowing that you share a love of a game and player that transcends it all. The gents who made the trip over will be changed people by the time Serbia turns them loose and sends them home. Honorary Serbians all, with a love for place that used to be a postage stamp-sized shape on a ninth-grade geography map.

If you are looking, you see these bonds form everywhere around you, more often than not, from a commonality you never knew you and someone else shared. And while that feeling is one of life’s great joys and surprises, it sure feels like one we could spend a little more time seeking out these days, instead of waiting for it to bless us with it’s presence. With the way we all seem to be going these days, maybe looking for any and all of those common bonds between us is what will see us through.

Author

Mike Olson is a weekly columnist for DNVR. The Colorado State University alum was born and raised in Fort Collins and has been writing about Denver sports for the last eight years. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he has an unhealthy addiction to In-n-Out Burgers and a healthy aversion to the Lakers.

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