Michael Malone was one of the first people in the NBA to support Nikola Jokic. Right after the Denver Nuggets selected the Serbian big man, the coach was happy with the decision, praising Jokic's talents.
"I know Nikola Jokic and I wouldn't trade him for anybody in the world. He's a special young man, he's a special young talent and he's only going to get better as he continues to get stronger, learn the NBA, finishing around the basket, defensively," Malone said about Jokic's ceiling in 2016.
He kept that energy all these years. After Jokic was announced as the 2021 NBA MVP, the coach rocked a shirt with all the criticism he's heard over the years.
- Too skinny
- Can't jump
- Low pick
- The kid from Denver
- Poor defender
- Bad attitude
- Not an All-Star
- Slow feet
On the back, Malone had a big message for doubters: 'joke's on you.'
Jokic has become one of the best players in the league while also earning the fans' love. He's a very easy-going guy, always making jokes and bringing joy to his teammates and fans.
This season he finally joined the elite of the league, becoming the first center to win the coveted award in 21 years. The last center to do so was Shaquille O'Neal, but now there's a new sheriff in town.
Nikola went from asking people to play basketball with him on Facebook to become an NBA MVP. He had to overcome being overlooked, even on draft night. Jokic's selection happened during a Taco Bell ad, proving how disrespected he was at the beginning of his career.
His progress is simply admirable, and the best part is that this isn't even his ceiling.
He's trying to lead his Denver Nuggets to the NBA Finals this year. The Phoenix Suns are trying to beat the 26-year-old in the second round of the playoffs, but Jokic is ready to prove why he is the MVP this season.