With the legislative session over, let’s take a break from divisive politics to take in some news that all Coloradans can celebrate: the first Denver Nugget — ever — has been named most valuable player by the National Basketball Association.
You probably know him as “The Joker,” a nickname bestowed by teammates on Nuggets standout center Nikola Jokic. (It’s a play on his surname.) The superstar has taken it in stride and good humor, as he does everything else — himself included. In a sport of outsized egos, the 26-year-old reputedly has his own ego firmly in check. For Jokic, by all accounts, it’s all about the team. He sets a great example for Colorado’s kids — in sports and in life.
Jokic’s raw statistics this season of course have been stellar: He has averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. He racked up 60 double-doubles and 16 triple-doubles this season, surpassing Dikembe Mutombo for most double-doubles in Nuggets history.
But what arguably makes him a player for the ages is something that can’t be captured in statistics — his ability to draw the best out of his teammates. And his deft passes to them — honed, some say, playing water polo in his native Serbia — showcase his teamwork.
And here’s another point of pride for Colorado: While Jokic is the first Nugget ever selected as an MVP, he is the eighth Colorado athlete in the history of the state’s four major professional sports teams to earn the designation. The Avs gave us Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg; for the Broncos, of course, it was John Elway, Terrell Davis and Peyton Manning; there was Spencer Haywood of the old Denver Rockets in the former American Basketball Association, and don’t forget Larry Walker of the Rockies.