And sometimes, as in Friday's 108-95 victory from Miami that brought the Nuggets close to a first NBA championship, it happens that all this debauchery of energy brings back to 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 skill at 11/15, were preponderant in the third victory of Denver, who is only one more in this final to win the Grail. And his boundless activity was not limited to scoring, as he also managed 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.

"He made us win the game," said Nikola Jokic, whom Gordon relayed perfectly on offense, with his 15 points in the second quarter, when the Serb was having his right ankle treated which had turned slightly a few minutes earlier.

"A warrior"

"He was our best player on the pitch. If you sacrifice yourself for something bigger than yourself, for the team, it makes you a great teammate, "insisted the two-time 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 ends of the court, "complimented his coach Michael Malone, great architect of the transformation of the player in the two and a half years he landed in Colorado.

Aaron Gordon scores a basket for Denver against the Heat, during Game 4 of the NBA Finals, on June 10, 2023 in Miami © POOL/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Because the player, now 27 years old, 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 like I was going to be more of a defender for this team, which had Jokic, a two-time MVP who could do everything on offense, Jamal Murray, who could score 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," he said after the best performance of his career in the play-offs.

"Improve my basketball IQ"

The maturity helping and the fact of growing alongside the current best player on the planet, Nikola Jokic, with whom the automatisms are glaring, as evidenced by the dunks in alley-oop (pass in the air) that the Serb offers him regularly, have also allowed Gordon to choose his shots better, without forcing them, with the reward of excellent success, on the series against the Heat (66.7% including 71.4 from behind the arc).

Serbia's Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon's teammate in Denver, against the Heat, on June 9, 2023 in Miami © Mike Ehrmann/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

"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 to put intensity, something he has become accustomed to at the beginning of matches, as if to set the tone. His 12 points in the first quarter of the first game had hurt the Heat, who had never really been able to recover.

"That's why we recruited him," Jamal Murray said Friday night. He fights like a dog, he's strong, he's physical, he's tough. But he's relaxed too. He brings everyone together off the field and he's a selfless player. He's been solid throughout the play-offs, really excellent."

"He just wants to win, like all of us," concluded the Canadian fullback.

© 2023 AFP