Serbian Nikola Jokic named best player of the season for the third time

The “Joker” returns to the top. Nikola Jokic, the Serbian pivot of the Denver Nuggets, was named best player (MVP, “Most Valuable Player”) of the NBA regular season for the third time in his career, the North American basketball league announced Wednesday, May 8. The 29-year-old had already obtained this award in 2021 and 2022. He finished second last year, behind Joel Embiid of the Sixers, but had the satisfaction of leading the Nuggets to their first NBA title that year.

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This season, Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9 assists for Denver. The defending champion finished tied atop the Western Conference with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The massive Serbian (2.11 m, almost 130 kg) is also the second player in NBA history, after Oscar Robertson in the 1960s, to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 600 assists during ‘a season.

For the third year in a row, no American player was in the running among the three finalists for this MVP title. Jokic was opposed to Canadian leaders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Slovenian Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks). The last American MVP was James Harden in 2018. Jokic earned 79 first-place votes, compared to 15 for Gilgeous-Alexander and four for Doncic. The award is awarded by an international panel of journalists and sports commentators.

Tribute to his teammates

He is the ninth player to be named MVP three or more times. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the absolute record with six individual coronations, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan each hold five titles and Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James four. Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were each three-time MVPs.

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Nikola Jokic paid tribute to his teammates. “Without them, I can’t do anything”he declared during the MVP announcement broadcast on the American channel TNT. “The coaches, the players, the organization, the medical staff, the full-time coaches, the development coaches – it’s a big circle without which I couldn’t be where I am.”.

It remains to be seen whether the Nuggets pivot will be able to combine an MVP award and the NBA title this season. The Colorado franchise lost the first two matches of the Western Conference semi-final against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and must try to recover on the field from Friday against the team of Frenchman Rudy Gobert, designated him, Tuesday, best defender in the league for the fourth time in his career.

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The World with AFP

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