Nikola Jokic’s rise from a late second-round draft pick to one of the biggest stars in the NBA is nothing short of remarkable. His back-to-back MVP awards in 2021 and 2022, coupled with leading the Nuggets to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance, have solidified his status as an elite player.

However, it’s not just the Serbian superstar’s on-court accomplishments that make his coach, Michael Malone, proud. It’s his character and humility off the court that truly impresses Malone.

When asked about what makes him proud of Jokic outside of basketball, Malone responded with admiration, saying, “That he’s never changed.” Malone recognizes that fame and fortune have the potential to alter individuals, causing them to lose touch with their roots and the people who supported them along the way. However, Jokic has remained grounded and true to himself, unaffected by his incredible success.

Malone highlights Jokic’s humility, emphasizing how he has stayed the same person despite his MVP accolades and lucrative contracts. He marvels at the rarity of such a humble and selfless superstar in the basketball world, where many succumb to the pressures of fame. Jokic’s unwavering devotion to his family, his home, and his passion for horses further exemplify his genuine nature.

“I think we all see it in all walks of life how does fame, fortune affect you,” the Nuggets coach said. “And for most people they got to their head and they become something different. Sometimes they forget where they’ve come from and who helped them to get where they’ve gotten to.

“And the one think I really love about Nikola – just forget basketball – to your point just as a young man who is a proud father and a husband as you mentioned Paul, but through all the success, the MVPs, the max contracts, all that stuff he’s still the same guy.

“I marvel at that because I’ve been in the league around this game a long time and that is a rarity in this business and for a celebrity, a superstar in general. So the fact that Nikola is still a humble selfless person and he cares about home, he cares about family, he cares about his horses. The guys is just who he is. I couldn’t have more respect for him as a man because of that.”

The admiration Malone has for Jokic extends beyond the basketball court. He respects him as a man and values the qualities he displays as a proud father and husband. Jokic’s ability to maintain his authenticity and caring nature despite his elevated status is a testament to his character and serves as an inspiration to those around him.