Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won back-to-back MVP awards, and is vying to become the third NBA player to win the award in three consecutive years.
And while Jokic will most likely fall short of the achievement: Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid is the favorite to take home the award: Jokic has a much bigger goal in mind.
Jokic has led the Nuggets to a 2-0 series lead over the phoenix suns in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, putting on a show Monday night in Denver with 39 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
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basketball hall of fame charles barkley he was in awe after the performance, imploring fans of the game to appreciate what Jokic was doing on the court.
«I just have to tell people, man, let’s bask in the greatness watching this Joker play,» Barkley said after the game. «I mean, he’s not flashy. He seems like a great person. I don’t think he’s ever met him in person before. But man, he just appreciates greatness like we appreciate Steph.» [Curry] yesterday.
«I love this kid, watching him play basketball,» Barkley continued.
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In a game where co-stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. struggled, Jokic took over on offense and made 30 shots in a 97-87 victory.
«I love an aggressive Nikola Jokic» nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
«Nikola is an MVP for a reason,» Malone said. «He can take over a game. He can beat you in so many ways… I love a guy who’s getting to the basket, imposing his will on the other team. And that fourth quarter, man, 14 points for that team, 28 % from the field, 0-for-9-for-3?»
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Embiid appeared to edge out Jokic in the MVP race at the end of the NBA regular season, despite Jokic leading Denver to a 53-29 record and the top seed in the Western Conference.
The MVP award will be announced Tuesday night.
«If he wins it, we’ll celebrate it and be very happy for him because it would be a great achievement, three years in a row. Only a few guys in NBA history have done it,» Malone said. «If he doesn’t win it, I’ll still give him a hug and tell him that he’s the MVP in my eyes.»
Associated Press contributed to this report