The Short Game: Walking Tall


Mike Carlson, Spear Contribtor

Joey Kleeman has got swagger. No, it’s not the kind of “swagga” you will hear about in a Kanye West song. Nor is it that disgusting type of “swagger” Justin Bieber keeps “singing” about in his so-called “songs” or whatever filthier-than-a-Taco-Bell-bathroom brand of music the once pop star keeps churning out. It’s not even Old Spice Swagger.

Kleeman has his own brand. Take notes, Bieber.

When Arapahoe’s junior guard checks in, everyone notices. Now, Kleeman isn’t exactly the tallest guy on the court (he is listed officially as 5’10”) which is to say he usually isn’t the tallest guy out there period. So, for a guy like Kleeman to command any attention, let alone the majority of it, is nothing short of Leonardo Dicaprio winning an Oscar. Astonishing to say the least.

Kleeman could probably care less. “I’ve been little all my life,” said the junior. “I’ve just always had to play [with a chip on my shoulder] against bigger guys.”

The Warrior’s versatile scorer doesn’t just own the court when he steps out there. He owns the gym, the concession stand, the parking lot (a place where he seems to score routinely from), and, really, the greater Denver Metro area.

It’s gotta be the shoes, right? Nope. It’s the confidence.

“Since seventh grade, I’ve worked with a special coach and he just helps me develop all my game,” said the guard. “And that just gives me a little more confidence than everyone else.”

Are you kidding me? Kleeman has enough to confidence to play defense on a guy seven inches taller than himself — like the time he did just that against Mullen and stole the ball quicker than Usain Bolt after a Red Bull.

Hyperspeed, let me introduce you to Kleeman-speed.

Kleeman is fast in almost everything he does on the court. He is the offensive equivalent of powdered milk coming off the bench. Just add water for instant offense. Dunkin Donuts employees wish they could stuff donuts like Kleeman does a stat sheet.

In the first quarter against Westminster, Kleeman came off the bench and promptly dished a game-tying assist to senior Trevor Johnson, made a go-ahead three-pointer, and, as if to stuff it (pun completely intended) to Dunkin’s employees everywhere, delivered yet another assist, this time, to senior Max Whitehead.

“He shows by example” said junior teammate Brett Harmon. “You look at him and say ‘I need to do the same thing.’”

The kid has got more show than Broadway. His leadership is never in question.

“He’s definitely a leader” sophomore Ben Timmons said emphatically. “He’s silent, but he leads by action.” Which seems to be the theme with Kleeman. He is a point guard Patton from the minute he steps on the court.

Now, off-the-court you’d expect Kleeman’s gritty style of play to cause him and his teammates to fight like the members of a nineties’ boy band. You’d be wrong. They love him. “[Kleeman’s] always been nice to me [and] always been a nice guy,” said Timmons. “I love him.”

“I really like Joe. Me and him get along in school and off the hardwood. He’s always got my back and we actually have a lot of fun times together,” Harmon said.

Pretty cool, huh?

So, with the Warriors amidst one of their worst losing streaks in recent memory, look to the man with a chip on his shoulder the size of a Lay’s factory to lead them out.

“It’s coming. We’re ready to win,” said Kleeman.

Wouldn’t doubt it for a second.