Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 2x NBA MVP, 4x NBA All-Star, and 3x All-NBA First Team… Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Nikola is genuinely a fascinating player and human. The first Serbian to ever win an NBA MVP and only the 13th in NBA history to win back-to-back seasons, following Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2018-2019, and 2019-2020.
Considering Jokic’s over under to become a back-to-back MVP at the beginning of 2021 was +3000, his road to this outstanding achievement was superb and impressive.
Nikola Jokic’s Childhood
The Joker was born on the 19th of February in 1995 to his father Branislav Jokic and his mother whose identity has not been disclosed. The Jokic family was a devout orthodox Christian family, leading to Branislav and Jokic’s mother naming their child Nikola after Nicholas. Jokic grew up as the youngest child in the family after his two brothers Strahinja Jokic and Nemanja Jokic.
Despite the image of Jokic, we may have now as the star basketball phenom, Jokic was not a fan of the sport during his initial years. Nikola grew up with a passion for riding horses. While his two older brothers would play basketball, Nikola would spend the majority of his time riding horses. Though he never truly got serious with horse racing, Jokic “just fell in love with horses and their beauty and elegance” and it was simply a hobby, not a profession.
Transition to Basketball
However, as the youngest of the three began spending more time with his brothers around the basketball court, he began developing a taste for the sport. Nikola began watching the NBA highlights when he turned 14 years old, soon after YouTube had come to Serbia: “I started to watch highlights from some players, some moves but not the whole games. It was like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.”
After Jokic grew at an abnormal pace and spent more time playing basketball, he realized basketball might be his future. He began playing professionally in Vojvodina Srbijagas where he would absolutely dominate his competition. His skill and finesse caught the eyes of several Serbian professional teams.
In 2012, Jokic began playing for Mega Vizura’s junior team and only averaged 1.8 points and 2 rebounds during his 10.2 minutes per game. However, Jokic took a leap the following season as he played for the senior team and averaged 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists through his 25 Adriatic League games. What’s most impressive is that 18-year-old Jokic was doing this against actual adults and veterans.
Serbia to the United States – The Denver Nuggets
And Jokic’s impressive play was noticed not just nationally, but now internationally. In 2014, the Serbian phenom was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. And while his name was called, Jokic claims to have been asleep. Not only was he asleep but there was also a Taco Bell commercial airing as he was picked. Talk about disrespecting a future two-time MVP.
In his first season for the Nuggets in 2015-2016, Nikola Jokic played roughly 22 minutes per game and averaged 9.9 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists for 80 games. His strong play for a rookie awarded him with his first NBA accolade: All-Rookie First Team honors. After playing against professionals back in Serbia, Jokic never had the rookie jitters of going against professionals.
2016-2017 was the season where Jokic proved his worth and proved to the Nuggets that he was worth the valuable 2nd round pick. Jokic showed tremendous offensive growth through both his scoring ability and passing ability. Jokic recorded 6 triple-doubles this season and finished 2nd in the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award voting.
In the 2018-2019 season, Jokic had his breakout season. He received his first All-Star appearance and his first All-NBA appearance after averaging 20 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Then his legacy continues to this day after he became the first Serbian to win the MVP and became the 13th in NBA history to win the honors twice back-to-back.
He’s Not Just a Basketball Player?
On the 24th of October in 2020, Nikola Jokic married his girlfriend Natalija Macesic of 7 years. Ever since then, Jokic and Natalija have been living in Denver. Jokic recently had a baby girl Ognjena Jokic in September of 2021.
To this day, Jokic still has a passion for horses and horseback riding. Each offseason, Jokic makes it clear to the Nuggets coaches, players, and staff that he will be returning to Serbia for a short time to spend time with his family and his horses. Such a wholesome story that still has so much more to come considering Jokic is only 27!