Throughout the years, Michael Malone has been high on Nikola Jokic’s traits, attitude and demeanor, often comparing it to the great Tim Duncan.
And on Wednesday, he again made sure to repeat it as the Serbian superstar is set to power the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.
“He’s not trying to be something he’s not. He’s not trying to create a narrative other than ‘I’m Nikola Jokic, I play for the Denver Nuggets, I’m gonna do everything I can to help my team win and I’m gonna do it with class, professionalism and I’m never gonna make it about me. That’s the rarity,” Malone said of Jokic.
“I often make the comparison, I never coached Tim Duncan, but just from coaching against him and hearing stories about those that have been around him, Tim Duncan was a selfless superstar. I look at Nikola Jokic in the same vein. I think Nikola Jokic is truly selfless superstar, where it’s not about him. He’s not looking for people to ‘Look at me, tell me how great I am’. He’s almost embarrassed by the attention. He’s just wants to be one of the guys in the locker room, have fun, work hard and win.”
Duncan, famous for his quiet approach and steady leadership, served as the heart of San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty that spanned for nearly two decades. With coach Gregg Popovich, he has been involved in San Antonio’s reign which resulted in five league championships.
Asked if he is truly modelling his game to the all-time great, Jokic didn’t hesitate to admit it and further praised Duncan’s simple, yet effective tactics.
“Model my game probably, yes, yes,” Jokic when asked if he patterns his game to the Spurs great. “He’s one of the best power forward players to play the game. He did it with such ease.
“I remember when he played against me, he was a little bit older, but he still gave me the easiest 20 points ever in life probably. He always had a counter, but he was so patient. I think he’s a great player to look up to, to model your game to him.”
Jokic and the Nuggets will look to draw the first blood of the championship round against the Miami Heat on Thursday.