Nuggets’ Michael Malone: Give Nikola Jokić ‘His Damn Respect’; His MVPs Are ‘Real’

Nuggets’ Michael Malone: Give Nikola Jokić ‘His Damn Respect’; His MVPs Are ‘Real’
Francisco RosaMay 23, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 22: Head coach Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets celebrates with the Western Conference Championship Trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the Western Conference Finals at Crypto.com Arena on May 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images

Over the past three years, Nikola Jokić has reached extraordinary heights and nearly conquered every major milestone in basketball.

The Nuggets superstar won back-to-back MVPs in 2021 and 2022, he’s universally considered the best passing big man of all-time and he has now led Denver to its first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals.

Jokić was once again the driving force as the Nuggets’ swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and essentially averaged a triple-double for the series, posting 23.3 points per game to go along with 12.3 rebounds and 9.8 assists.

He won the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP trophy.

And yet, he still doesn’t get all the respect he deserves. Coach Michael Malone knows it’s way past time to give the man his flowers.

“The MVP’s are real,” Malone said following his team’s Game 4 win on Monday. “All the narratives are silly. He’s averaging a triple-double. Do you see any stat-padding out there? Give him his damn respect.”

As he battled for a third-straight MVP against Philadelphia 76ers’ star Joel Embiid, who eventually won the award this year, a lot of people began to criticize Jokić, his style of play and even his MVPs.

One of his biggest critics was former NBA big man turned analyst Kendrick Perkins, who said that Jokić was stat-padding in games.

Now, there’s not much anyone can say as Jokić has looked like the best player on the planet over the last few weeks.

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