By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The Denver Nuggets finished first in the Western Conference Regular Season standings and went on to win the championship for the first time in team history. Leading star and Serbia’s own Nikola Jokic staying calm throughout the process was probably expected. However, head coach Michael Malone once more praised his player, the recipient of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.
“You can look at it from the basketball perspective, two MVPs, Finals MVP, world championship, and everything he’s done on the court, and then more important for me you can look at off the court, the relationship, the love that I have for Nikola, his mother and father back in Sombor, Serbia, his brothers Nemanja and Strahinja, his wife Natalija and their daughter Ognjena. They’re a wonderful family I’ve gotten very close to,” said the 51-year-old tactician.
“I’ve said this many times before, but Nikola even tonight, he’s kind of acting like this was just another game,” Malone added on the way Jokic approached Game 5 and the championship-clinching opportunity in Ball Arena Monday, “He’s never changed with all the success, and he never will. It’s just not in his nature.”
The Denver Nuggets are hungry for more
A championship run usually creates a sense of invincibility, especially fresh off lifting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Winning it all was certainly a huge success but not necessarily the end of the road for the Nuggets and Malone.
“Pat Riley said something many years ago. I used to have it up on my board when I was a head coach in Sacramento, and it talked about the evolution in this game and how you go from a nobody to an upstart, and you go from an upstart to a winner and a winner to a contender and a contender to a champion, and the last step is after a champion is to be a dynasty,” explained the Queens-born head coach.
“So we’re not satisfied,” he stressed, “We accomplished something this franchise has never done before, but we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and I think we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we’re capable of on the biggest stage in the world.”
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