By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally practicing with a specific opponent in place, the Denver Nuggets are set to face the Miami Heat. Ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals best-of-seven series, Nikola Jokic discussed multiple topics stretching from the series itself to Tim Duncan.
“I often make the comparison, I never coached Tim Duncan, but just from coaching against him and hearing stories about those that have been around him, Tim Duncan was a selfless superstar. I look at Nikola Jokic in the same vein,” noted Nuggets head coach Michael Malone after practice Wednesday, “I think he’s a truly selfless superstar, where it’s not about him. He’s not looking for people to ‘Look at me, tell me how great I am’. He’s almost embarrassed by the attention.”
Jokic, 28, was later asked to comment on the latest comparison to the five-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs. “Model my game probably, yes, yes,” was his immediate reaction.
“Probably he’s one of the best power forward players to play the game. He did with such ease,” he added, “I remember when he played against me, he was a little bit older, but he still gave me the easiest 20 points ever in life probably. He always had a counter, but he was so patient. I think he’s a great player to look up to, to model your game to him.”
A back-to-back season MVP in 2021 and 2022, the Serbian superstar would love to add a championship ring to the list of huge achievements in Denver.
“I think we are not the favorite. I think in the Finals there are no favorites. This is going to be the hardest game of our life, and we know that. We are prepared for that. We are prepared for that,” he ruled out any kind of labels ahead of the series opposite the Heat, “So, I think there are no favorites. Definitely, I think we are not favorites in this series. I think they’re not either. I think it’s just the Finals. There are no favorites in the Finals, in my opinion.”
Making his way from Europe as the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA draft, he landed in Denver ahead of the 2015-16 season. Time zones were an issue and following the NBA was a challenge back in Serbia.
“Maybe I remember when Dallas won the championship, Miami. I remember San Antonio winning it. But then, to be honest, I don’t even remember the opponents,” was the uncertain review of NBA Finals knowledge provided by Jokic, “It was Miami-San Antonio, right, in Miami when Ray Allen hit that big shot? I remember that one. To be honest, I don’t remember.”
Game 1 of the championship series will be played in Ball Arena Thursday.
Photo Credit: Getty Images