DENVER (AP) — Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon needed 21 stitches after suffering lacerations to his face and right hand while being bitten by a family dog on Christmas, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of the incident, first reported by The Athletic, haven’t been released. The Nuggets announced in a statement the 28-year-old “is in good condition” but will remain away from the team indefinitely to recover.
Gordon is averaging 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds for the defending NBA champions. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 120-114 win over Golden State on Christmas.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after practice Wednesday that he’s checked in with Gordon.
“He’s hanging in there,” Malone said. “Obviously, a very traumatic experience and the most important thing I told him is that you take as much time as you need. We’re a family — wins, losses, and when people go through tough times like Aaron’s going through right now.
“We have his back. We love him. We’re here for him. So whenever he’s able to come back, we’re going to open our arms up and embrace him. I told all the guys to make sure they’re reaching out to him, to make sure he’s never feeling like he’s on an island.”
The Nuggets are off to a 22-10 start in their quest to repeat as champions. Gordon, who shoots with his right hand, won’t be rushed back to the court.
“We need him to heal inside and out,” said Malone, whose team hosts Memphis on Thursday. “Going through something like that is not something you come back from easily. That’s something where you have to heal from the physical, but you also have to heal from the mental and what you just kind of went through.
“We want him back. We know we’re better off with him. But I want to support Aaron Gordon and make sure when he comes back, he’s ready to come back and play at the level that we know he’s capable.”
Teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said he was planning to reach out to Gordon after finding out the news at practice.
“He just uplifts everybody that comes in when he’s around them,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’ve got to do the same for him.”
The Nuggets were without Gordon for five games earlier this season because of a strained right heel. They also played without point guard Jamal Murray for more than a dozen games as he dealt with ankle and hamstring issues.
“To our players’ credit, whether it was Jamal being out, whether it’s Aaron being out, whoever it is, our guys have stepped up,” Malone said. “It speaks to the quality of our depth. We have guys that are stepping up and taking advantage of any and all opportunities.”