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Third MVP Honor for Nikola Jokic Places him in Exclusive Club Among NBA History

On Wednesday, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets was voted the NBA MVP, making league history as the ninth player and first foreign player to win the prize three or more times.

The Serbian player, who has already won the accolade in 2021 and 2022, defeated Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to win it. Jokic came in second behind Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Embiid lost his title after having knee surgery in February and didn’t play in 65 games, which is the new NBA requirement for award eligibility.

Jokic defeated finalists Gilgeous-Alexander (15) and Doncic (four) with 79 of the 99 first-place votes. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who garnered one first-place vote, and Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks, a guard, came in fourth and fifth, respectively.

On the five-man ballot, votes were also cast for Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Jokic told reporters in an interview, “You’ve got to start with your teammates,” “Without them, I can’t do anything. Coaches, players, organization, medical staff, strength coaches, development coaches, it’s all one big circle. I can’t be whatever I am without them.”

“Thank you, Shaq,” Jokic murmured. “We don’t judge people here. That’s fine. It’s your opinion. I’m joking. For real, there are a lot of players that deserve it.”

In 79 games, Jokic, 29, averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 9.0 assists. He helped the Nuggets win 57 games and secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Oscar Robertson, the Hall of Fame guard, was the only player in league history to duplicate those numbers in 1962.

In terms of the major advanced statistical criteria, such as win shares, value over replacement player, and player efficiency rating, Jokic led the league.

The only other players to have received the award at least three times are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Bill Russell (five), Michael Jordan (five), Wilt Chamberlain (four), LeBron James (four), Moses Malone (three), Larry Bird (three), and Magic Johnson (three).

Jokic, who is a fantastic scorer and distributor, took home the MVP award for the NBA Finals in 2023 and earned his first title. The Nuggets have faced greater difficulty in the postseason this year; they are now down 2-0 in their second-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Game 3 will take place at Minneapolis’s Target Center on Friday.

“We have a tough test,” Jokic remarked. “We’re going to Minnesota to try to get the series back to Denver [for Game 5]. They are playing really good. They didn’t lose a game in the first round. They’re playing at a high level. We didn’t play our brand of basketball.”

At the age of 25, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.5 rebounds to lead the Thunder to 57 victories and the top seed in the West. After losing in the West’s play-in tournament the previous season, the surging Thunder are now playing the Mavericks under Doncic in the second round.

The Mavericks, who won 50 games and secured the No. 5 spot in the West after winning a 2023 lottery, were led by Doncic, 25, who averaged 33.9 points, 9.8 assists, and 9.2 rebounds. Doncic played in the fewest games of the three finalists, just 70, yet posting the best scoring line of his career and winning the first scoring title of his career.

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