Beautiful, exciting, spectacular, NIkola Jokic will never be enough for the NBA. Not enough to upset the two-time MVP, already one of the most talented basketball players in history, ready to guide Denver to a first championship title against Miami. In 2014, little attention was paid - except among the Nuggets, who did not imagine how much they won the jackpot - the arrival of the Serb in the league. Selected 41st overall in the draft, he was not entitled to this little moment of glory live on American television, because his name had been called during an advertising page touting the products of a Tex-Mex fast-food chain.
- NBA: schedule and results
- NBA Rankings
In nine years, neither the excellence of his basketball nor his many accomplishments have propelled him under any light other than that of the sports beam. Because Jokic does not advertise any product in the United States, it is just if he promotes a beer in Serbia, and he does not have any pair of sneakers to his name, despite being under contract with Nike. He is also one of the few MVPs in this case, like Dirk Nowitzki in 2007. There is no doubt that if he did not put on "Air Jokic", he would sign to walk barefoot in the footsteps of the former German pivot, crowned champion with Dallas four years later.
Red nose, golden hands
So certainly, his clumsy look, his unconventional gestures, his nose that blushes under the effect of the air conditioning, give him a low artistic note, in the eyes of aesthetes who swear by the "showtime". But his technical rating is the opposite extremely high, with his golden hands worthy of Larry Bird's, according to coach Gregg Popovich, and that very high "basketball IQ" that any point guard would dream of.
Former Wizards player Gilbert Arenas pointed to this truncated perception, which determines a player's popularity at the expense of his value, even if it means having harsh words. "Nobody cares if he becomes champion, nobody wants to watch him. He's not going to become a megastar, because he doesn't do anything that kids want to see. He has a great game, but it's not exciting (...). You have to be an avid basketball fan to understand what the "Joker" is doing. The others swear by the 3 points from afar, the dunks or... the Lakers. We know what Jokic does, that's what a winning team looks like. But the NBA is not based on that, it is based on the stars," he argued.
Nikola Jokic was logically voted MVP of the Western Conference Finals. Kirby Lee / REUTERS
Not being "bankable" is not likely to upset the Serb, always quick to self-mockery. "Me out of balance? I've been out of balance all my life, so that's normal for me," he recently joked about his signature shot, rainbow and leg, which hurt the Lakers so much.
MVP in jockey outfit
The Serb, who averages 29.9 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists (54.4% shooting and 47.1% three-pointers) in these playoffs, with already eight triple-doubles, one more than Wilt Chamberlain's former record, is nevertheless unanimous with the greats. As soon as he was eliminated in the Western Conference finals, LeBron James took his hat off to him: "I know how great he is. You are always destabilized when you defend on him. He sees the game before anyone else. There aren't many players like that."
Read alsoNBA: home-court advantage for Denver, the complete program of the finals
Jokic will remain one of the greatest pivots of all time, "prophesied Kevin Durant, yet quite stingy in compliments, after being also sidelined with the Suns. "The 'Joker' is changing the game before our eyes, like Michael (Jordan), Larry (Bird), LeBron (James), Steph (Curry), Kobe (Bryant), Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and Shaq (O'Neal)," tweeted, former glory Magic Johnson, who can obviously be added to this list.
These laurels so well braided do not seem to destabilize this peaceful man, whom nothing moves more than his horses. It was in a jockey's outfit that he received his second MVP trophy last year, in Serbia, his country, where ultimate star Novak Djokovic says he is one of his biggest fans. "He is the pride of Serbia," proclaimed "Djoko" Monday, on the sidelines of Roland-Garros. "He's so humble," "Nole" added. An opinion shared by Nuggets coach Michael Malone. "Success, money, fame have never changed this guy. It's rare in this environment," he said.