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Michael Porter Jr. embraces Nuggets brotherhood amid family sorrow

Nuggets Lakers Basketball
Posted at 9:21 AM, Apr 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-22 11:21:42-04

DENVER — Nobody needed basketball more this week than Michael Porter Jr.

“I definitely tried to compartmentalize," Porter Jr. said after the Nuggets Game 1 victory over Los Angeles. "Some bad stuff and some sad stuff happened to my brothers.”

In the span of two days, Michael Porter Jr. watched one younger brother — Jontay — gamble his way to a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Then, his youngest brother — Coban — was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a young woman in a drunk driving crash.

“I wish it was me," Michael Porter Jr. said testifying at the sentencing hearing on Friday — the day before Denver opened up the playoffs against the Lakers. "As the older brother in the family, I wish it was me. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, I wish it was me not Coban.”

Michael Porter Jr. missed practice to be at that hearing, but the entire team made sure he knew that his family was on their hearts.

“Each one of them texted me separately and told me they got my back and if I needed anything they got me," Michael Porter Jr. said. "To have these guys understand why I missed practice and have my back has been big for me.”

After all of that, the hardwood floor at Ball Arena proved to be a sanctuary for MPJ on Saturday night.

"That’s why basketball is such a beautiful thing," Nikola Jokic said after watching Michael Porter Jr. score 19 points and help Denver claim a 1-0 series lead over Los Angeles. "You don’t think about [anything] but what’s going on on the floor.”

“There’s so much going on for Michael Porter Jr. and his family," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. "This allows him to get back to doing something not only that he loves but that he does very well.”

MPJ, along with the rest of the Nuggets, got off to a slow start in Game 1. It's hard to believe that had nothing to do with the pain inevitably weighing on his heart.

“We’re human, we carry our emotions and the things that go on off the court onto the court," Michael Porter Jr. said. "I’m mentally tough, I’ve been though a lot my whole career so it was just another one of those things that I had to play through.”

Leaning on perseverance and championship experience, MPJ and the team as a whole found a rhythm in the second half and imposed their will on the Lakers in what turned out to be a comfortable victory.

“For his mindset to be where it is, I applaud him," Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said of Porter Jr. "We’re going to keep him, as a brother, we’re going to keep him straight.”

The mental strength displayed by Michael Porter Jr. is nothing short of Herculean.

He's battled back surgeries, physical and mental pain — now, sorrow and scandal among his siblings.

During these dark moments, Michael Porter Jr. leans on faith and family to provide warmth.

“I’ve got 15, 16 more brothers in [the locker room]," Porter Jr. said. "I knew I had to be here for them and come in here and do my job."

“Of course family is the first thing but we are some kind of family too," Jokic said. "Hopefully he’s going to find peace and he’s going to be in a good spot mentally.”

Winning won't cure everything, but it works as a soothing balm for now.

While the tempest rages around Porter Jr., throwing himself into work — at this time of year — may be a championship decision.

Michael Porter Jr. embraces Nuggets brotherhood amid family sorrow

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