NUGGETS

The constant whining about Jokic not getting respect is growing tiresome

Feb 24, 2022, 6:48 AM
Nikola Jokic...
(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

I very vividly remember the moment. It involved perhaps the greatest point guard in NBA history, John Stockton.

The Denver Nuggets had just done something no other team in NBA history had done. They were the No. 8 seed in the NBA playoffs and they knocked off the No. 1 seed. It was something no other team had done before and only a handful have accomplished since.

The 1993-94 Denver Nuggets team, with a 42-40 regular season record, knocked off the mighty Seattle SuperSonics, coached by George Karl. Now, it was time to take on the Utah Jazz in the second round.

After flying back to Denver from Seattle, we got one day at home and then packed up and headed west, to Salt Lake City, to see if the Nuggets could flash their playoff magic against the mighty Jazz, led by Karl Malone and John Stockton.

The day before game one, the Jazz had a media session. Media members were allowed into the Jazz locker room, where the entire roster was assembled. I was a wide-eyed, second-year radio broadcaster with the Nuggets, and maybe just a little bit in awe of it all. I had my microphone and tape recorder and followed the beat writers around the Jazz locker room, poaching audio.

We eventually stopped at the locker of John Stockton, now an NBA Hall of Famer. Stockton was asked about whether or not he thought the Denver Nuggets were getting enough respect, going into round two of the playoffs. I still have the recording of Stockton’s answer. Here it is, word for word.

“Honestly, I don’t understand this whole respect thing. And honestly, I don’t really care about it a whole lot. My position is, go out there and play. Go out there and play to win. Go out there and do all you can to help your team win that night. I don’t really care if another team respects us and I don’t think a whole lot about the idea of respecting them. Let’s just go play.”

“Let’s just go play.”

No wonder Stockton was so good!

Now, maybe there is a lesson here. Maybe there’s a lesson here for Nuggets fans and media members who insist Nikola Jokic is not getting the respect he deserves.

In the past two weeks, I have spoken with three different media members on this subject, all of whom claim Jokic is not getting his proper respect. In those conversations I asked two questions. One, who is it that is not giving him respect? The answer was referees and national media members. The second question was, does this really matter? Does it really matter if he might be getting disrespected?

My own answer. Yes, it matters with referees. And no, it doesn’t matter with the national media.

So what if the national media overlooks Jokic’s greatness? We know who he is. We know he’s the MVP and probably should be again this year. We know about the awes-inspiring, magical ability he has on a basketball court. So what if some so-called “NBA expert” from ESPN doesn’t?

And I think it’s safe to say Jokic himself doesn’t really care what the national media thinks either. He’s a lot like Stockton. He’s about winning.

As far as referees not giving him respect, there might be something there. But maybe that’s partly his own fault. He does whine a bit. Probably a little more than he should. Referees are human. They don’t like being shown up. They are like a lot of us – they don’t like whining either.

I got a hunch that if Jokic cuts down on the whining, he gets more calls. If he just goes and plays, kind of like Stockton, I think he will get a little more respect from officials.

So maybe we take a basketball lesson from the NBA’s all time assists leader.

Let’s not focus on respect or a lack of it.

Let’s just go play!

***

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The constant whining about Jokic not getting respect is growing tiresome