Aaron Gordon OK with attention


TUCSON, Ariz. -- Aaron Gordon has a secret. He was not born a basketball player. He's not like most guys who insist they can't remember a day they didn't play, as if the bouncing part of the bouncing baby boy refers to a wee Spalding that joined them on the way out of the womb. In a former life, Gordon was an ice hockey player.

"What? He was?" Arizona coach Sean Miller asks.

Turns out few knew of the secret life of this one-time Archbishop Mitty star.

The truth is, the entire Gordon family, now known for their basketball prowess -- dad, Ed, played at San Diego State, eldest child, Drew at UCLA and New Mexico, middle sister, Elise at Harvard and now Aaron at Arizona -- skated. The sure-to-be cringe-worthy photographic evidence is included here, courtesy of mom, Shelly Davis Gordon, who started the whole thing by picking up a pair of skates on a business trip to Bavaria years ago.

She gave the skates to Drew, who showed an immediate affinity for the sport. Suddenly all of the Gordons were lacing up their skates -- Shelley with her company team, Ed with a club of his own and Drew, the real talent in the family, who would have gone East for school to play if concussions didn't derail his career.

As for Elise and Aaron, they were the kid sister and brother who tagged along to Drew's practices, more content to play slide and giggle than compete.

"You'd skate as fast as you could and then slide on your stomach,'' Aaron said.

But old habits and fun memories die hard even in the Arizona desert. Told there's a rink in Tucson, Aaron's eyes lit up.

"There is?" he said. "Let's do it. I'm in.''

Somewhere Miller's heart just stopped beating. Sure, why not let his stud freshman, a surefire lottery pick, the anchor of his No. 1 and undefeated Arizona team, slide around ice on 3mm blades?

"OK, maybe after the season,'' Aaron conceded, "but I would love to.''

Of course he would, because that's exactly who Aaron is -- a kooky, funky dressing, occasionally off-beat 18-year-old.

He is a basketball player, and a very good one at that, but basketball doesn't define him.

It never has.

"We weren't tracking our kids to be basketball players or anything like that,'' Shelly said. "We let them all find their own way.''

Aaron's way eventually led him away from the ice and onto a basketball court. And in a few months the basketball court will lead him to a new suit, a stage and a baseball cap as an NBA lottery pick. But before all that, Aaron is going to enjoy the ride.

And he is actually enjoying it.

We have gone this season from talking about how great the Fab Freshmen of '14 are and would be, to a bit of necessary self analysis, questioning whether all of this attention is fair to 17 and 18 year old kids. Two of the original four ( Joel Embiid and Tyler Ennis came late to the party), Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, have struggled, and after the Most Fabulous Freshman Class Ever Assembled has taken a little time to assemble itself.

Somehow Gordon, named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 on Wednesday, has rolled along relatively unscathed. He's not the Wildcats' leading scorer, and no one is wringing their hands. He's had a few off nights and no one is worrying what ails him.

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