Michael Porter Jr. returns to Denver Nuggets after week away


PHILADELPHIA – A familiar grin swept across Michael Porter Jr.’s face as he finished up practice Friday at Temple University.

The relatively confined space made for a noisy, jubilant atmosphere, with players challenging each other to one-on-one games and a team-wide 3-point shooting contest.  Aaron Gordon danced when his side won. Nikola Jokic skipped along the sidelines when his group, on the other side of the court, was victorious.

That was the environment that greeted Porter, who returned after missing three consecutive games to be with his family. Porter’s brother, Coban, was arrested for his alleged involvement in a fatal crash over the weekend. Police suspect him of driving under the influence.

Porter had been told by multiple people within the organization to take as much time away from the team as he needed. Before practice began, Nuggets coach Michael Malone took a moment to greet him. Earlier in the week, he expressed condolences to the victim of the crash and everyone whose lives were affected.

“We think of all of them,” Malone said.

On Friday, there was Porter, dressed in team attire and sweats, back among his teammates.

“When we started practice before we brought it in, I said, ‘Hey, just want to welcome Michael back,’” Malone said. “For all players, being on the court, being with your team is a sanctuary. That’s the one opportunity you can get away from everything going on in your life and be in your happy place. It was great for our guys to have their brother back. It was also really important for Michael to be back with his team.”

Malone also told Porter it’s a blessing that he’s got the foundation he has around him.

“The only thing that gives me solace right now is that Michael Porter’s family is one of the closest, tightest families I’ve ever been around, and I feel really fortunate that he has that because his brother, Coban, what he’s going through, what their whole family is going through, they need to rely on each other right now.”

On Saturday, Porter was back on the court as the Nuggets took on the Sixers. The 6-foot-10 forward played hard in the loss, scoring 20 points on five 3-pointers along with six rebounds. He shot with confidence, employed his patented jab step and was among Denver’s most reliable weapons in their loss to the 76ers.

In one instance midway through the third quarter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stole the ball and quickly threw a pass to Jokic. Porter flanked his center and was fed for a tough and-1 finish. Appreciating his effort, Jokic patted Porter on the head after the sequence. It’s subtle, but it’s one of Jokic’s signature celebrations.

Asked what it was like to have Porter back, Jokic understood the sanctuary metaphor.

“That’s what supposed to be,” Jokic said of Porter. “Hopefully that’s how he feels.”


Source link