Former NBA MVP puts voters on blast, tells Jokic he shouldn’t have won

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Two
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Two / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

As expected, Nikola Jokic won his third NBA Most Valuable Player Award on Wednesday night. It’s his third award in four years and he has a second-place finish to boot. This honor puts Jokic in rarified air, as he’s now just the ninth player ever to win three MVP awards.

Nikola Jokic wins his third MVP Award

Despite the Nuggets currently trailing 0-2 in their Western Conference Semifinal series, the MVP award announcement offered a nice chance to briefly reflect and celebrate the incredible accomplishment. It should have been a night of joy and appreciation, but instead, things took an odd turn.

The award was announced live on TNT by the Inside the NBA studio crew prior to the tip-off of game two between the Knicks and Pacers. Charles Barkley announced Jokic as the winner and congratulations were offered.

Shaquille O'Neal unhappy with the decision

But then Shaquille O'Neal went on an interesting tangent, stating that he felt that while Jokic was the best player, Shai Gilgerous-Alexander of the Thunder was “robbed” and he should have won the award. 

His argument was based on stats as he mentioned that SGA had scored 30+ points over 50 times this season and team performance as the Thunder got the number one seed in the Western Conference.

Those are interesting cases as Jokic had better stats across the board in just about every category other than scoring and the Nuggets and Thunder finished the regular season with identical records. 

It’s unfortunate that Shaq used this time and his platform to diminish Jokic instead of celebrating the accomplishment and the amazing season he had. The NBA community is lucky to be experiencing an all-time great run in real-time, and for some reason one of their most prominent media members is choosing negativity; it’s frustrating.

Jokic then joined the broadcast for a live interview with the crew and Shaq doubled down, telling Jokic to his face that he thought SGA deserved to win. It was bizarre and borderline uncomfortable to watch. There is no reason this kind of thing should be happening and you wouldn’t see it in other sports.

It’s one thing to disagree with the decision, but to derail the show and announcement by making it about himself was completely inappropriate and reeked of pettiness. Shaq is still bitter about losing an MVP award 30 years ago, and he has a hard time accepting that any modern-day big men might actually be as good as he was. It’s sad.