His smile has a wingspan. When Nene unleashes this thing, it instantly illuminates, pressing his cheeks toward his ears like a center boxing out another in the low post.
And there was that grin of grins Thursday afternoon, back in its familiar surroundings. The Washington Wizards big man made his first return to the Pepsi Center since being traded last season by the Nuggets. Nene and his team worked out in the Nuggets' practice gym, and he was smiling and hugging old friends from the Nuggets who stopped by to say hello.
"It's strange. It was weird, getting off the bus. It's totally different, totally different," said Nene, whose Wizards play the Nuggets on Friday night. "It's definitely going to be emotional. I played here almost 10 years. A lot of stories, good, bad. I'm going to try to have fun, enjoy the game and play hard."
Nene was traded for JaVale McGee on March 15. Nene said Thursday, when asked if being traded hurt him: "At that time, yes, I was. I was surprised. Everybody was surprised by it. But life is continuing. You can only take care of the present and the future."
There's no question that there was frustration toward the end of his Denver tenure. The big man re-signed with the Nuggets late in training camp last winter and wasn't completely in shape entering the lockout-shortened season. He battled injuries and didn't come back as fast as some would have liked. And he was wildly inconsistent, dominating one half, disappearing in the next.
Nene has NBA career averages of 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. At age 30, he has similar averages for Washington (12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds) this season. The Wizards stink — but lately they have been playing OK, winning three of their past four games, in part because point guard John Wall has returned. Still, the Wizards are 1-16 away from Washington.
Read more: Former Nugget Nene back in Denver with Washington Wizards - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_22398754/former-nugget-nene-back-denver-washington-wizards#ixzz2ILq85IpJ
Former Nugget Nene back in Denver with Washington Wizards
Denver Post | Jan 18