Nicola Jokic played for Denver. And for Serbia.
Both places can claim the same thing again: for the second season in a row, they are home to the NBA’s most valuable players.
The league announced on Thursday (AEST) that Jokic has won the back-to-back MVP award. After being honored by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokunampo – from Greece – in 2019 and 2020, The Nuggets’ big man is the second consecutive international player to win two in a row.
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This is the first time international players have won the award in four consecutive seasons. Steve Nash of Canada followed Dark Novitzki of Germany in 2005 and 2006 for Phoenix and in 2007 for Dallas.
The international players finished 1-2-3. Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 points from a panel of writers and broadcasters. Joel MBD of Philadelphia was second with 26 first place votes and 706 points; Antetukunampo was in third place, with nine first-place votes and 595 points. Devin Booker of Phoenix finished fourth.
“I don’t know what else you can say about Nicola at this time,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said in a statement. “He’s constantly improving his game, he’s constantly proving wrong when people suspect him and he’s consistently the best player on the floor, night in and night out.”
The 27-year-old jockey averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in a team that missed the top two players of Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) and won 48 games. The Do-It-All Center nickname “Joker” has created a new division, becoming the first NBA player to receive 2000 points, 1000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
He is now a member of another rare club – the 13th player to win a back-to-back NBA MVP award. He was joined by Antetocanumpo, Stephen Curry, LeBron James (twice), Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Karim Abdul-Jabbar (twice). Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell have each won the award in three consecutive seasons.
At his stables in Serbia, Jakik was also surprised to see his horse riding in a two-wheeler. Malone hugged him and waited. Same with Tim Connelly, president of basketball operations.
“It’s amazing because me and my horse trainer were doing a quick workout,” Jokic told TNT after being surprised.
“It was different because we did it in the afternoon … We usually do it in the morning. I came back to the stable and everyone was here. I saw my godfather’s car (and wondered) why he was here.
“Then I saw everyone in the shirt … It was a really emotional moment for me. No one has ever been here so I think it’s amazing. I think it only happened once in a lifetime.”
Jokic was picked by the Nuggets, the 41st pick in the 2014 draft. His election that day spread under the television screen during a Taco Bell ad.
He has come a long way. He is eligible for a Supermax extension that could guarantee him around $ 369 million for five seasons starting from 2023-24.
All this will be dawn on him – down the road.
“Probably when I’m older, fatter and uglier, hopefully I’m going to remember and I’m going to tell my kids, ‘I was really good at playing basketball that day,'” Jokic said.
James also broke his record – 19 years in the league, 19 years of getting at least one vote in the MVP ballot (a fifth place vote). No one has voted in more seasons than James or, frankly, more seasons.
Despite their tumultuous season – the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make it to the play-offs – James remains one of the league’s best. The 37-year-old is averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, behind No. 2 on the all-time scoring list Carl Malone and is in a position to overtake Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leader. Weather.
James has seen changes in the game in his 19 seasons. He was part of the last USA basketball team that failed to win Olympic gold – the squad that went to Athens in 2004 – and even then it was confirmed that the game was only getting stronger around the world.
Jokic is further proof of that fact.
He is not showing it himself. Antetokounmpo and Embiid have done more than their part. Luca Donsic of Dallas (fifth in the MVP poll) is already a Eurolig champion and it looks like he will win at least one NBA MVP award before he finishes.
They follow in the footsteps of Nowitzaki, Hekim Olajuon, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Pau and Mark Gassol, Yao Ming and a new class of international greats. Which international player – either now or the best of all time – will be debated, but Antetocunampo (two MVPs and one Championship) and now Jokic (two MVPs after the second round selection) must have entered the chat.
Canada won a championship in 2019 when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title. That night, the Canadian flag was soaked in champagne, Pascal Siakam was dancing with the Cameroonian flag on his shoulder, party president Masai Uziri was interviewed with a Nigerian scarf around his neck, and they were a few raptors with deep international ties. .
It is not uncommon for five international players to be drawn in a lottery in next month’s draft. And there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t see France’s Victor Wembaniama – a 218cm guard – currently ranked No. 1 in the 2023 draft.
Those newcomers will want to be like the joker. They want to be MVP, and he’s just the latest name to show kids around the world that it’s possible.
“Who is it if it’s not me?” Jokic replies when he thinks of himself as the longest of the long shots. “There’s no way I’m going to come to the NBA and play basketball from this city and from this stables. Now I’m playing basketball in the best leagues in the world and at a higher level.”
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