Aaron Gordon’s image has long been reduced to that of an All-Star Game dunker, when he was languishing in Orlando, but since joining Denver in 2021, he has become a different player, generous, complete, ready to sacrifice for the collective.
And sometimes, like during Friday’s victory over Miami (108-95) which allowed the Nuggets to come very close to a first NBA championship title, it happens that all this excess of energy brings back into full light a man who had agreed to put himself in the shadow of the stars of his new team.
His 27 points, with a diabolical address at 11/15, were decisive for Denver’s third success, which only needs one more in this final to clinch the Grail. And his overflowing activity was not limited to scoring, since he also managed 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
“He made us win the match”, summarized Nikola Jokic, whom Gordon relayed perfectly in attack, with his 15 points in the second quarter, when the Serb was treated for his right ankle which had slightly rotated a few minutes later. early.
– “A warrior” –
“He was our best player on the pitch. If you sacrifice yourself for something bigger than yourself, for the team, that makes you a great teammate,” insisted the double MVP, recalling that the strong winger “occupies a different role” with Denver than with Orlando, of which he was “probably the best player”.
“Aaron carried us offensively. He did everything for us tonight. He was huge, he behaved like a warrior on both sides of the field,” complimented his coach Michael Malone, a great craftsman of transformation. of the player for two and a half years since he landed in Colorado.
Because the player, now 27, did not have such a panoply in his basketball during his young years at the Magic, where his explosiveness earned him the somewhat pompous nickname of “Air Gordon”. It was therefore necessary to better exploit his exceptional athletic qualities (2.03 m, 107 kg) to make him a basketball player capable of multi-tasking.
“When I arrived, I felt that I was going to be more of a defender for this team, which had Jokic, a double MVP who can do everything on offense, Jamal Murray, capable of planting 50 points, and Michael Porter Jr, one of the best shooters in the world. So I knew we had to make it easier for them, and that’s what I like to do,” explained the man after the best performance of his career in the play-offs.
– “Improve my basketball IQ” –
Helping maturity and growing up alongside the current best player on the planet, Nikola Jokic, with whom automatisms are glaring, evidenced by the dunks in alley-oop (pass in the air) that the Serb offers him regularly, also allowed Gordon to choose his shots better, without forcing them, with the reward of an excellent success, on the series against the Heat (66.7% including 71.4 from behind the arc).
“I play with one of the smartest basketball players in the world, so I have to improve my basketball IQ to help him,” the winger recently observed.
This does not prevent him from making his power speak and putting on the intensity, something he has become accustomed to at the start of matches, as if to set the tone. His 12 points in the first quarter of the first game had thus undermined the Heat, who had never really been able to recover.
“That’s why we recruited him, said Jamal Murray on Friday evening. He fights like a dog, he’s strong, he’s physical, he’s tough. But he’s relaxed too. He brings everyone together. world off the pitch and he’s a selfless player. He was solid throughout the play-offs, really excellent.”
“He just wants to win, like all of us,” concluded the Canadian fullback.
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