Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Nikola Jokic, the ‘un-American’ center who doesn’t stop breaking records

While the basketball finals are being played in the United States, there is a 28-year-old Serbian player who does not tire of making excellent passes, scoring and assisting his teammates, the Colorado Denver Nuggets. A player who knows no bounds and wants to win the first ring in Western Conference history.

He is a different player. He is 2.11 meters tall and as television cameras show the attack of the Danversians, you can see the stout physical frame of this man born in Sombor, Serbia, who is misleading the opposing defenders with his body.

June 7, 2023;  Miami, Florida, Usa;  Denver Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic (15) Dunks The Ball Against Miami Heat Center Cody Zeller (44) During The First Half Of Game 3 Of The 2023 Nba Finals At Kassite Center.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-Usa Today Sports
June 7, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dunks the ball against Miami Heat center Cody Zeller (44) during the first half of Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Finals at Kassite Center. Mandatory credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports via USA TODAY Sports Reuters Con – Kyle Terada

And it is that the best athletes in the world have always been recognized for their great abilities and skills, in the field in which they dominate. Michael Phelps, considered the greatest swimmer of all time for his speed in the water; Lionel Messi, the Argentine star who conquered everything with his prodigious left foot; Usain Bolt of Jamaica who runs almost at the speed of light, but if we talk about Jokic then why is he getting all the attention? What is the magic of this European who has amazed fans, experts and even his teammates?

The Center That’s Reinventing the NBA

He is not American, nor of Afro descent, he is not thin and oddly enough, he is not the fastest in sports. One might think that a player with these characteristics could not be successful in one of the highest level basketball competitions in the world, but this is a completely different matter than usual.

Nikola Jokic receives with his back to the basket and it is precisely at that moment that one begins to see all of his qualities. With the ball in his hands, he swings his trunk from side to side, with the complete calmness that his over 200cm height allows, and waits for his teammates to stand outside and ask for a pass.

There doesn’t seem to be any tension or frustration in his game, on the contrary, he is a part of the team that radiates calmness and this is probably the key that has allowed him to be declared the Most Valuable Player in the NBA twice. For his first coach, Dejan Milojevic, now an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, Nikola has the playing field in his mind and although he may seem slow on the outside, he knows very well how to analyze what his teammates are doing. Where are you, what is the next step and how to give the next pitch.

Jokic’s extraordinary numbers

He began his professional career at the age of 17 in his native country with physical problems that forced him to follow a conditioning plan that has been strong enough to make him who he is today. He was selected in the 2014 draft by the Denver Nuggets and food and health were once again a topic of conversation because of his taste for Coca-Cola, according to what the player declared in an interview with ESPN.

Currently, he weighs 129 kilos and according to statistics, he is the second heaviest player of all NBA rosters as he earns $32.4 million per season.

How many players have converted 500 points and 150 assists in a season? Well, a special and short list already features the name of this ‘Serbian legend’ alongside figures such as LeBron James – who achieved this record six times – Russell Westbrook and other basketball greats such as Isaiah Thomas, Larry Bird and Jerry West.

The fact of being a pivot is just a small label for the Colorado player and figure. In the third game of the finals against the Miami team, Jokic was once again in the numbers: 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. Which means he had 30 or more touchdowns, 20 or more rebounds and 10 or more scoring passes. He is the first player in the finals to achieve a triple double of these attributes.

,For the record I am not so happy. I am happy because we won the match. We didn’t want to lose the series, we wanted to win,” Jokic said after Game 3 of the Finals against the Heat.

He also generated buzz in the playoffs, as he broke a new record: he recorded the most triple-doubles in a season. This occurred in contention in Denver’s fourth game against the Los Angeles Lakers, when he reached a total of eight triple-doubles. To see what happened, it suffices to review that the last time an NBA player achieved these numbers was Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.

The Olympic silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics now seeks to go for a collective achievement, lead the Denver Nuggets to win the first NBA title in their entire history. Will he get it? We’ll know on or before June 18 if Nikola Jokic leads his team to close out the series before Game 7.

World Nation News Desk
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