FOX Sports NBA Writer
Aaron Gordon knows he could be a star elsewhere.
Instead, he has wholeheartedly embraced a comparatively thankless role in Denver, playing behind Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and others on offense, while often guarding the opposing team’s brightest star.
But Gordon doesn’t see his role on the Nuggets as relatively paltry — he sees it as a privilege.
“I don’t care about the credit,” Gordon told FOX Sports. “I care about the wins.”
Gordon’s approach has greatly benefited the Nuggets, who have reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. In their 104-93 win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Thursday, Gordon shined, finishing with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while helping hold Jimmy Butler to just 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
The Nuggets acquired Gordon at the 2021 trade deadline from the Orlando Magic, who had selected him as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft. In Orlando, Gordon was the guy on a team that missed the playoffs five times and had two first-round exits. In Denver, he often works in the shadows, doing things that don’t show up in box scores — chasing loose balls, rim-protecting and forcing guys to alter their shots.
When asked if he prefers his new job over his old one, Gordon smiled broadly.
“Winning?” he said to FOX Sports. “Yes. Most definitely. I’d much rather score 15 on a winning team than 25 on a losing team.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been deeply impressed with Gordon’s willingness to sacrifice, especially this season, after Murray and Michael Porter Jr. returned from lengthy absences due to injuries.
“We always talk about Nikola embodying Nuggets’ culture, and I think Aaron Gordon is a prime example of somebody who’s truly selfless,” Malone said. “He understood with Jamal and Michael coming back this year, being healthy, that his role was going to change. He never once fought it. He’s embraced it from Day 1 of the season.”
Gordon has excelled as a two-way player for the Nuggets, averaging 16.3 points on a career-high 56.4% shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the regular season, which propelled him into the conversation of making his first All-Star team in 10 seasons.
But Gordon was passed over for the honor, with Jokic being the only Nuggets’ player selected as an All-Star.
According to Malone, Gordon doesn’t get celebrated enough.
“He does a lot of the dirty work for us,” Malone said. “And a lot of times he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.”
This postseason, Gordon has poured himself into guarding the best players in the NBA.
According to NBA.com, when he guarded Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns in the first round, he held him