Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has been officially named the NBA Most Valuable Player

Denver – Nikola Jokic plays for Denver. And for Serbia.

The two places could make the same claim again: For the second consecutive season, they are the home of the NBA’s best player.

The league announced on Wednesday evening that Djokic has won back-to-back Player of the Year awards. The Nuggets’ big man is the second consecutive international to score two goals in a row, after Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmo – of Greece – was honored in 2019 and 2020.

This is the first time that international players have won the award in four consecutive seasons. Canadian Steve Nash returned to the Phoenix Suns in 2005 and 2006, followed by German Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks in 2007.

The internationals finished 1-2-3 this year. Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 points from the panel of writers and broadcasters. Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers came in second with 26 first-place votes and 706 points, and Antetokounmpo finished third with nine first-place votes and 595 points. Devin Booker of Phoenix finished fourth.

“I don’t know what else you can say about Nicolas at this point,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said in a statement. “He has been constantly improving his game, he has constantly proven people wrong when they doubt him and he is always the best player on earth day and night.”

The 27-year-old Djokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists for a team that was missing a maximum of two players in Jamal Murray (AFC Champions League) and Michael Porter Jr (at the back) and won 48 games. Nicknamed “Joker”, the Do-It-All Center also created a new category to become the first NBA player to surpass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a single season.

He is now a member of another rare club – the thirteenth player to win NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Join the likes of Antikonmo, Stephen Curry, LeBron James (twice), Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice). Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell have won the award in three consecutive seasons.

Jokic was also surprised, as he rode behind his horse on a two-wheeled cart in his stable in Serbia. Michael Mallon was waiting for his hug. Same with Nuggets head of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

“It was a real emotional moment for me,” Jokic said in an interview with TNT broadcast. “Amazing.”

Jokic was selected by Nuggets with the 41st pick in the 2014 draft. His selection that day appeared across the bottom of the television screen during the Taco Bell commercial.

You have come a long way. He’s eligible for a Supermax extension that could guarantee him nearly $254 million over five seasons starting from 2023-24.

All this will overlook it – on the road.

“Maybe when I’m old, fat and grumpy, I hope I’ll remember and say to my kids, ‘In the past, I was really good at playing basketball,'” Jokic said.

James expanded his record as well – 19 in the league, 19 with at least one MVP vote (5th place vote). No one has gotten votes in more seasons or, obviously, in more consecutive seasons than James.

Despite the Lakers’ disastrous campaign – they didn’t even participate in the tournament – James’ numbers remained among the best in the league. The 37-year-old averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, surpassing Karl Malone for second on the all-time scoring list and in a position to overtake Abdul-Jabbar as the league leader later. season.

James has seen the game change during his 19 seasons. He was part of the last US basketball team to not win an Olympic gold medal – the team that went to Athens in 2004 – and was convinced until then that the game was getting stronger around the world.

Jokic is another proof of this happening.

Nor does he explain it himself. Antetokounmpo and Embiid more than done their part. Dallas’ Luka Doncic (5th in the MVP vote) is already the Euroleague champion and certainly looks like he’ll win at least one NBA MVP before it’s over.

They are the new class of world greats, following in the footsteps of Nowitzki, Hakim Olajuwon, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Bao and Marc Gasol, Yao Ming and others. Debate will rage over which international player – both now and of all time – is the best, but Antetokounmpo (two Top Players and an NBA Championship) and now Jokic (two Top Two players) have definitely gotten into the chat.

Canada secured a championship in 2019 when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title. That night, the Canadian flag was doused with champagne. Pascal Siakam danced with a Cameroon flag around his shoulders and team leader Masai Ujiri interviewed a Nigerian scarf around his neck – they were just a couple of Raptors with deep international ties.

It’s not inconceivable that five international players might pick the lottery in the NBA draft next month. And there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t see France’s Victor Wimpanyama – a 7-foot-2 player with guarding skills – as the number one confirmed player in the 2023 draft now.

These newcomers will want to be like Jokic. They will want to be the best player, and it’s the latest name to show these kids from all over the world that it’s possible.

“If it’s not me, who is it?” Djokic responded when asked if he considered himself the longest shot. “It’s impossible for me to come to the NBA and play basketball from this city and from this stable, basically. Right now, I play basketball in the best league in the world and I play at a high level.”

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