Nuggets pay final tribute to longtime athletic trainer Jim Gillen

by Aaron Lopez

On the first day of summer, the Denver Nuggets helped longtime athletic trainer Jim Gillen ride off into the sunset.

Gillen, one of the longest tenured members of the organization, was the guest of honor during a party at Brooklyn’s on Saturday. He joined the Nuggets in 1991 and retired after 23 seasons with the team.

“I timed it out to where I was ready to retire and I was able to do it on my own terms,” he said. “It’s been nothing but terrific.”

Among those who attended the retirement party were Denver Broncos athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos and former Cleveland Cavaliers athletic trainer Max Benton. Gillen and Antonopulos worked together with the Broncos, while Benton was Gillen’s assistant from 1995-2001.

Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly also were in attendance, along with former and current members of Denver’s coaching staff. Gillen’s wife Terri and Nuggets vice president of basketball administration Lisa Johnson organized the event.

“It’s incredible how many people actually came,” Gillen said said. “I have friends here who were my closest friends in the little town I grew up in Kansas. All my former assistants were here. It’s amazing the network you have of people after all these years.”

Gillen leaves a lasting legacy in Denver. He never missed a game or a practice in his 23 seasons, and he supported Colorado high schools by establishing the Excellence in Athletic Training awards in 2003.

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