Despite dominating in the regular and postseason, the Joker has been like Rodney Dangerfield lately: he just can’t get no respect. Dangerfield’s ‘I can’t get no respect’ routine is a hilarious comedy classic that even the youngsters these days have likely heard a reference to.
Jokic joins the ranks of Dangerfield and Aretha Franklin as they search for the R-E-S-P-E-C-T they so obviously deserve but for some reason cannot grasp. No modern-day NBA MVP has lived what Dangerfield preached more than Nikola Jokic.
If you haven’t been paying attention, you might have missed it—that tends to happen a lot with Jokic because, as Rodney said, no respect at all—but over the past few weeks there have been slight little jabs made by the NBA and the media at the reigning and defending MVP’s ego. It’s a good thing Jokic doesn’t have one:
Seriously, how can everyone not love the Big Cevapi?
Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic: Where’s the disrespect coming from?
This year it’s back to regularly scheduled programming for the NBA, and Christmas Day will be one of the biggest on the NBA calendar, as it always has.
There will be one difference to this year’s NBA celebration of jolly old Saint Nick: the reigning MVP will not be working that day. Yes, that’s right, though he is the best player in basketball, the powers that be did not see fit to include him in their holiday schedule.
Since the league began having more than a pair of games on Christmas Day in 2007, the reigning MVP has played in one of those games every year except for one, and that was only because LeBron James had won the MVP for the Cavaliers in 2010 and left to South Beach that offseason.
Basically, this is unprecedented. And it’s not exactly like you could say that Jokic’s style of basketball is the reason he’s not playing under the bright green and red lights either, the guy is hoop excitement in the most delightfully surprising package:
Jokic and the Denver Nuggets also won’t be playing on Opening Day, which I’d say is another poke of the bear. Those NBA schedulers are lucky it’s young Nikola they’re dealing with, and not his two more disagreeable older brothers, Nemanja and Strahinja.
Another slight sent at the Joker on his perch in the Rockies came last week when the NBA announced its full national TV schedule for the 2021-2022 campaign.
I tried to sift through the web to find some sort of chart or archive to see which teams played how many nationally televised games each season, but alas, as you might expect, there is no such spreadsheet. However, I was able to find the first half of last year’s schedule via DraftKings, and what I found would’ve had Aretha asking the NBA to spell out her favorite word for Jokic.
While the Nuggets have only 14 nationally televised games during a full 82-game campaign, last season’s Milwaukee Bucks—where last year’s reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, played—were on national TV a whopping 12 times in the first half of a 72-game season! Even ol’ Dangerfield wouldn’t believe this one!
Both are small markets with likable seven-foot MVPs from Europe and both play a brand of basketball that nobody could call boring. So what gives, NBA?
Not to mention the top techs at 2K have continued to be baffled on how to replicate the Big Honey’s haircut, which is a crying shame because we all love that classic buzzcut dome. We need a barber or a hairstylist on the 2K team, something must be done!
Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic: Put Some Respek On That Name!
Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is not only part of a new wave of seven-footers making big men cool again, he’s now leading the charge after becoming the first center to win MVP since Shaq Diesel back in 2000. He’s also the first Nugget and the first Serbian to ever achieve that honor.
What’s most impressive, though, is the fact that Jokic, a former 41st overall pick, is the lowest-drafted player to ever win MVP, and the only second-rounder ever to do so. From the mean streets of Sombor, to being drafted during a Taco Bell ad, Jokic’s ascension to MVP has been the stuff of Hollywood scripts, and certainly respect-worthy.
Did I mention that this race wasn’t even close either? Jokic won the MVP by a landslide, taking 91 of a possible 101 first-place votes, the best mark of any MVP since Steph Curry won unanimously five years ago.
The recognition was more than well-deserved. After his sidekick, Jamal Murray, went down with a torn ACL, Jokic didn’t allow his team to fold, instead hoisting them onto his back as he Sombor Shuffle’d them to a 13-3 run to finish the season with the third seed.
When you consider the other injuries to Denver’s guards and the fact that he played more than a handful of games with Austin Rivers and Facundo Campazzo as his starting backcourt, that achievement becomes all the more impressive.
In a year that was nearly defined by the sheer volume of injuries to top-flight players, Jokic never wavered, playing in each and every one of last season’s 72 games. Apart from a lack of defensive acumen, you’d be hard-pressed to find any holes in the Joker’s game through all 72 of those either.
He led the league with 60 double-doubles, posted 16 triple-doubles (second), a 20.1 PIE (second), and a 120.2 offensive rating (second). He trailed only Luka and LeBron in assist percentage among forwards/centers (37.7), was fifth in 3-point percentage among centers (38.8), while also scoring more points in the paint than anyone not named Giannis or Zion.
Oh, and he’s been known to pull a few rabbits out of the hat from time to time too.
You may say that he doesn’t deserve respect because he was swept out of the playoffs, and I say that’s hogwash. The Big Cevapi averaged 29.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.0 dimes per game on a 51/38/84 shooting line during the postseason including a 32-point, 20-board triple-double in vain during Game 3 of their second-round exit.
Safe to say that after what Jokic did last season—not only to win the MVP but just to get to where he is from where he was—I’m of the mind that the Joker would be completely within his rights to show up to his next media session like Birdman at the Breakfast Club (warning: explicit language):
So please, give the Joker what Aretha and Rodney were so desperately looking for, and listen to the wise words of Birdman when talking about Nikola Jokic.