Aaron Gordon rejoined the Nuggets for practice Sunday after missing two games due to injuries from a dog bite on Christmas. Gordon told The Denver Post he feels ready to play Monday when the Nuggets host the Hornets.
A league source said it’ll be Gordon’s call as to whether he plays against Charlotte, and that the team feels comfortable allowing him to play if he’s ready.
The dog that bit Gordon was his Rottweiler, which he adopted about four years ago when the dog was six weeks old, Gordon said. Due to the travel demands of the NBA schedule, he doesn’t get to spend much time around his pet during the season, so he has family looking after it for him. Gordon is considering possible training alternatives.
“I love dogs. I grew up with dogs my whole life,” Gordon said. “But because we’re on the road so much, my dad’s taking care of him, so I can’t really train him how I need him to be. … But I feel good. Everything is fine.”
Sporting 21 stitches caused by the incident, mostly bandaged across his right shooting hand, Gordon was in good spirits after his return to practice. He thanked everyone who wished him well during his absence from the team and added that he saw memes on social media relating to the dog bite, which he thought were funny. Gordon was also scarred near his lip.
“I’ve played with stitches in my hand before, so that’s not new to me,” he said.
He knew he was ready to return to basketball activities after the pain in his hand felt manageable.
“I don’t really care about the stitches on my face,” he said. “We’re not running a pageant here.”
“I’ll talk to him in a little bit here just to see how it felt at practice today, catching the ball, shooting the ball,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “It’s on his right hand. So it’ll be a discussion with him, and how comfortable he is going out there, playing. But he looked good today. I think for him it was just great to be back in the gym. And you always hear that from guys, when they’re not with the team, what they miss most is being around the locker room and the team and the comradery that we all have. But we’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow with the hand.”
As for what happened: Gordon was at home when he was bit. It was after Denver’s Christmas Day win over the Warriors. Gordon went to the hospital that night to get his injuries stitched up. The way he explained it Sunday, the bite was an unfortunate accident that was his own fault more than anything.
“I guess it’s a little bit embarrassing, but not too embarrassing to where I can’t talk about it,” he said. “I don’t drink a lot during the season. I probably had a little bit too much eggnog. I was kind of roughhousing with my dog, and I think my dog got a little excited and just basically chomped down. Gave me a bite. And I was basically wrestling him off of me, and then he bit my hand.
“For lack of better words, I was (messing) around with my dog, and when you (mess) around, you find out.”
Malone learned of the incident the morning of Dec. 26. He told Gordon to take as much time as he needed to heal from both the physical and psychological injuries. Gordon wasn’t in attendance for practice Dec. 27 or for either game of Denver’s back-to-back the next two days, watching on television from home. The Nuggets (23-10) took Saturday off after splitting their games against Memphis and Oklahoma City.
Malone told The Post he continued to reach out to Gordon throughout the week, and at one point, Gordon told Malone he felt like he was letting the team down. The Nuggets’ 119-93 loss to the Thunder on Friday was their worst margin of defeat at home since Jan. 15, 2019, when they were crushed 142-111 by the Warriors.
“I really, really enjoy this team,” Gordon said. “They love me very much. I love them too. That’s probably one of the hardest things about this whole thing. It’s such a fluke, silly injury. I had to miss a couple games, a couple of days, and be away from my team, and that sucks. … Being in the hospital and getting stitches is never fun. But it’s just like, I felt bad because I was taking away the doctors’ time when they could’ve been dealing with something more serious. Just feel a little silly, but it’s alright.”
Gordon vouched for his dog Sunday and said they reconciled the night of the bite. According to authorities, no dog bite involving an individual named Aaron Gordon was reported to local or state animal protection services.
“He’s a good boy. He’s a good dog,” Gordon said. “… Very attached. Very sweet. Very strong. Great dog.”
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