For years, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has claimed he likes his privacy and enjoys being left alone. But winning the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player award comes with more fame and attention.
During the Nuggets’ media days this week, Jokic said he would rather be unknown than having his fame increase from winning the award.
The wish for solitude has been a common theme for his career, even before becoming a star in the league. In an article from Bleacher Report in 2017, Denver Head Coach Michael Malone talked about this; “He likes to be left alone,” Malone says. “But he was more than appreciative of all the little kids, boys and girls, that were coming up to him. Because that was him many years ago.”
Celebrity is an ill-fitting suit for Jokic. He prefers the peace and relative solitude of the stable, grooming and feeding the horses, shoveling out their stalls. The routine is, for him, like raking a zen garden. “That’s kind of my getaway,” he says, “from the people.”
But the fear of fame hasn’t slowed down his career in any way. He has been an All-Star selection in each of the last three seasons, been named to the All-NBA first-team twice, and second-team once.
In six seasons, Jokic is averaging 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. Last year, during his MVP season, he averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists.
If he didn’t want to deal with fame and publicity, his play on the court has basically made that impossible. Becoming just the 35th player to win an NBA MVP kind of makes you pretty recognizable.
And if his talent on the court wasn’t enough, it also doesn’t help that he is an extremely identifiable physical presence. At seven feet tall and close to 300 pounds, he isn’t exactly difficult to pick out of a crowd.
Jokic, Fame, and His Horses
It is widely publicized what the Serbian center’s passion off the court is. When he gets time off from playing hoops, he is racing, training, or apparently just taking in the aroma of his racing horses.
In his ideal world, Jokic gets to spend his days at his horse stables. But fortunately for Nuggets fans, he was born with an incredible gift as a basketball player.
As a great passer who just seems to get better at everything each season, Jokic could have an extremely long career. Especially when you take into account he doesn’t use any athleticism to succeed, age shouldn’t affect his game.
But the real question about the length of his career will be whether he wants to continue spending so much time on the grind of the NBA or go back home to Sombor, Serbia and be with his family, both human and equestrian.
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