European basketball once again became the great winner, for the third consecutive year, when Serbian center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets was elected this Tuesday as the new Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2020-21 season.
Over the past two seasons were greeted by Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and another number four, legendary German Dirk Nowitzki, with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006-2007 season, Jokic is the fourth player European who gets it in NBA history.
However, he becomes the first in NBA history with the lowest pick in the college draft, ranked 41st, to do so.
He is also the first center since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 to earn the league's top individual honor.
Jokic was the overall winner of the award, with 91 of the 101 votes for first place and 971 points overall. He played all 72 regular-season games, one of 11 players to accomplish that feat in this pandemic-shortened campaign, while also putting together one of the best statistical individual performances in NBA history.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid from Cameroon and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry finished second and third, respectively, behind Jokic in the final vote, followed by Antetokounmpo, and the Suns point guard, Chris Paul.
Jokic, 26, received the news during a team meeting at the Phoenix hotel, where the Nuggets are staying awaiting the second game of the Western Conference semifinal eliminator that they play and are losing 0-1 to the local Suns team.
The commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, was in charge of communicating to Jokic the award he had won, while the Serbian player admitted that he never dreamed of receiving such an award and even reaching the NBA, his highest aspiration as a young man was to succeed in the basketball of his country and play the Euroleague.
He also reiterated that the award was individual, but that without the help of all his teammates, it would not have been possible, as well as the support received by the Nuggets organization.
In addition to being available nightly for Denver, Jokic finished the season with a career-best 26,4 points and 8,3 assists and tied for rebounds 10,8.
He also scored 57 percent from the field goal, 39% from three points and 87% of the personnel line.
Jokic led the Nuggets to the second round of the playoffs despite injuries to three of Denver's point guards, Canada's Jamal Murray, Will Barton and PJ Dozier, a feat none of the other teams that made it to the league. last year's conference playoff final on the bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics were able to equalize.
The combination of the game and the availability of Jokic made him an irrefutable case for the award in the eyes of the voters.
He becomes the first player selected in the second round to win the league's highest individual honor in the era of the college draw, also joining Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Tim Duncan (Virgin Islands), Steve Nash (Canada) , Nowitzki and Antetokounmpo as international award winners.
Winning the MVP also means that Jokic will be eligible to sign a supermax contract extension with the Nuggets after the 2021-22 season, a five-year contract that would exceed $ 250 million.
Despite not having won the award, the rest of the finalists will also have future contracts that they can sign millionaire increases.
Antetokounmpo got one first-place vote while finishing fourth, and Paul got two when finishing fifth.
They were followed by the bases, the Slovenian Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), the power forward Julius Randle and the point guard Derrick Rose (New York Knicks), who obtained the only remaining vote for the first place. through fan voting, and Utah Jazz French center Rudy Gobert finished XNUMXth.
Forward LeBron James (Lakers) received a vote for fifth place, tying him with guard James Harden (Brooklyn Nets) and Australian point guard Ben Simmons (Philadelphia) followed for thirteenth in the vote.
James had never finished down by eleventh in voting for the MVP award, which he has won four times, prior to this season.