Back-to-back MVP award for Nikola Jokic in an NBA more international than ever
In an all-international podium, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic finished ahead of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo to earn his second consecutive regular season MVP award.
For the first in the history of the NBA no American basketball player finished in the top three MVP ranking.
The regular season honour instead went to Serbia’s Nikola Jokic for the second consecutive year after he collected 875 points to finish ahead of Joel Embiid of Cameroon (706) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (595).
Just as the Greek did in 2019 and 2020, the Nuggets’ centre went back-to-back meaning the last time an American got their hands on the Maurice Podoloff trophy was in 2018 when James Harden took home the prize.
The ‘Joker’ and the ‘Greek Freak’ are the only two Europeans to have been elected MVP more than once.
Over the course of the past several seasons, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has established himself as the best big man in the NBA. In June, Jokic’s long journey from underrated Euro to bonafide superstar culminated when he became the Nuggets’ first-ever NBA MVP, earning 91 of 101 possible votes. Unfortunately for Jokic, the accolade almost immediately coincided with a sweep at the hands of the Phoenix Suns that sent the Nuggets packing for a third consecutive postseason. While most of Jokic’s teammates booked their flights to the land of bottomless Mai Tais and white-sand beaches, however, Jokic set his sights on somewhere very different:
His native Serbia, where he was spotted on Wednesday doing this.
Serbia is officially recognized as a parliamentary constitutional republic, but that’s all over now. It’s now a monarchy and Jokic its new king. Bend thy damn knee.
Geopolitical yucks aside, this is somewhat refreshing to see. In today’s NBA, it’s a daily contest to see which sixth man has the coolest Rolls-Royce hood ornament, and here we see the current MVP cruising around his hometown on a personal horse-drawn buggy. You may tolerate the Instagram one-upmanship. Hell, maybe it’s what you like most about the NBA. But you have to admit that this is a breath of fresh air. And unlike the cautionary tale of Jokic’s countryman Darko Milicic—now running an apple farm in Serbia—Jokic was able to establish himself as one of the world’s greats before returning to his humble roots.
All in all, not a bad way to spend summer vacation. Well, at least until the horse drops one, that is.