Nuggets scrimmage in Aurora, less than two miles from site of theater shooting

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
The Nuggets were down with the kids on Wednesday in Aurora. (Getty Images)

We tend to gloss over charity or community events for NBA players. Not just the media, but fans. We want to write about and you want to read about intrigue, player unrest, dunks, trade demands, trade rumors and injuries. Feel-good just doesn't pull the readers in.

This is one that you need to know about.

Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo., is 1.2 miles from the Century 16 Theater where, on July 20, a gunman opened fire on an audience during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." The assault left 12 people dead and nearly 60 people injured. It's a community wounded and struggling with trauma, and many of the students' lives were affected by the shooting.

When an NBA team usually holds a community event, you get two days to a week's worth of notice. The Nuggets announced on Wednesday afternoon that they would be holding their annual scrimmage at Gateway. Only students, faculty and staff were invited. From Nuggets.com:

“It's been another great example of the community support we've had,” Gateway principal Bill Hedges said. “I got a little emotional at the beginning of the game because our kids and our staff have been through so much … I think you've made 1,500 lifelong Nuggets fans here tonight.”.

The Nuggets were honored to be part of the ongoing healing process.

“They definitely have our support,” center Kosta Koufos said. “You heard stories about boyfriends taking bullets for their girlfriends. They're definitely the true heroes. They were very courageous.” ...

“We always want to be an important part of the community because we need the community to support us,” Denver coach George Karl said.

“This group of guys has a consciousness to their character and giving back. Their awareness of what's going on outside the game of basketball is at a pretty high level.”

The Gateway students cheered, clapped and chanted throughout most of the 40-minute game.

What the Nuggets did isn't going to heal anything. It's not going to take away what that community went through. The team has no obligation to dedicate that kind of attention to the school. A scrimmage at a bigger arena would draw crowds and give a bigger opportunity to sell merchandise. But the Nuggets' decision is a reminder that teams can be a part of the communities that they live in, even if their operations are always driven by business.

The Kroenke Sports Charities, operated by the Nuggets' owners, also held a sports equipment drive in Jessica Redfield's honor. Redfield was a local sports writer and aspiring newscaster who died in the shooting.

She was 24 years old.

 
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