NBA’s ultimate underdog emotionally accepts MVP at Serbian stable
The 41st pick in the 2014 draft, Nikola Jokic came to the Denver Nuggets as a complete unknown. He was unsure of what his new home would be like, the fans had never heard of him and the team had no idea what they had just drafted.
On Wednesday it wasn’t Jokic coming to the National Basketball Association. The NBA went to Jokic’s Sombor, Serbia to hand the Nuggets center the 2021-22 Most Valuable Player award.
Jokic was officially announced on TV’s NBA on TNT before the day’s playoff action. The network showed a clip of Joker receiving praise from Nuggets brass who made the trip across the ocean, then they had Ernie Johnson do a sit-down interview with the now two-time MVP.
Jokic was at his horse stables in his home city, when he came off the track to find friends and family singing to him, including head coach Michael Malone who kissed the MVP, and team president Josh Kroenke who hugged him and said how proud he was.
“It’s amazing, my horse training and I were doing a fast workout in the afternoon instead of the morning, and I was wondering why, thinking he went fishing,” Jokic said. “I came back in the stable, and everybody was here. Actually, I saw my godfather’s car on the track and I thought, what is he doing here?”
Denver is 5,589 miles from Sombor.
“I saw everybody in the shirts, and then I saw everybody,” Jokic recounted. “And it was really emotional, a really emotional moment for me. Nobody came here before; it’s actually an amazing thing that everyone came here; it’s once in a lifetime.”
Jokic went for 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals and .9 blocks per game this past season. He’s now the first two-time MVP in Denver sports history, becoming a legend and icon in the process.
“I think it’s great. Right now, I didn’t think about it,” Jokic said. “But when I’m old, fat and grumpy, hopefully, I’m going to remember and tell my kids back in the day, I was really good at playing basketball. Just to be in the company of those guys who have made history, it means a lot. Some kind of legacy.”
Jokic is an avid horse racer, training the animals in chariot, and he just generally loves equines. He did his MVP interview from the stable in Serbia.
“If it’s not me, who is it? I’m coming from this city, from this stable, basically. Now I’m playing basketball in the best league in the world and playing at a high level. Just to be in the NBA, it’s historical.”
Joker was cracking his humor the whole time, with a dog barking in the background.
What’s more Nikola Jokic than that?