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NBA: Nikola Jokic named MVP for the third time

  • May 9, 2024
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Serbian Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the third time in his career, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old pivot had already obtained this award from the North American basketball league in 2021 and 2022. He finished second in 2023, behind Joel Embiid, of the Sixers, but had the satisfaction of leading the Nuggets to their first NBA title that year.

This season, Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9 assists for Denver. The defending champion finished tied atop the Western Conference with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The giant (2.11 m) is also the second player in NBA history, after Oscar Robertson in the 1960s, to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 600 assists during a season.

NBA: Nikola Jokic named MVP for the third time

Nuggets pivot Nikola Jokic during his team’s NBA playoff game against the Timberwolves on May 6, 2024 in Denver. / MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

For the third year in a row, no American player was in the running among the three finalists for the MVP title. Jokic was opposed to Canadian leaders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Slovenian Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks). The last American MVP was James Harden in 2018.

With Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Moses Malone

The Serb earned 79 first-place votes, compared to 15 for Gilgeous-Alexander and four for Doncic. The award is awarded by an international panel of journalists and sports commentators.

Jokic is the ninth player to be named MVP three or more times. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the all-time record with six MVPs, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan each hold five titles and Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James four. Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were, like Jokic, each three-time MVPs.

Nikola Jokic paid tribute to his teammates. “Without them, I can’t do anything,” he said during the MVP announcement broadcast on TNT. “The coaches, the players, the organization, the medical staff, the full-time coaches, the development coaches – it’s a big circle without which I couldn’t be where I am.”

NBA: Nikola Jokic named MVP for the third time

Nikola Jokic before a Nuggets game against the Los Angeles Lakers, April 29, 2024 in Denver. / MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

It remains to be seen whether Jokic will be able to combine an MVP award and the NBA title this season. The Nuggets lost the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and must try to recover on the Timberwolves’ home court starting Friday.

The MVP title is the last of the end-of-season awards awarded by the NBA this year. Earlier this week, Frenchmen Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Victor Wembanyama (San Antonio Spurs) were named best defender and “rookie of the year” respectively.