Despite being one of the best players that the NBA has to offer, fans and analysts alike have contributed to disregarding the historic run he has been on over the past three seasons. If Jokic played a more entertaining style of basketball, there is a good chance that he would be the most talked about player in the league right now, however, because of his more traditional style of play, he has been completely overlooked.
Recently when asked about what a ring in this year’s NBA Finals would mean for Jokic’s legacy, former NBA point guard Gilbert Arenas was quoted as saying, “No one’s going to care. Let’s be honest. I’m sorry, he’s not going to go from where he is right now to this super megastar because he’s not doing anything that the kids want to see”.
He would go on to say, “Tim Duncan was four rings in, and he went to go win his fifth one, we said, “Oh s**t, this is so boring”. Nobody wants to see Tim Duncan and the Spurs in the championship. That’s just the facts. No matter how many rings they won. No one really cared about the Spurs like that”.
While there is some truth to what Arenas said, it was still extremely disrespectful to say that no one would care if Jokic and the Nuggets won the title this season. If Denver does bring home a title this season, it will be the first in their franchise’s history, and it would also silence a lot of Jokic’s critics.
Through the majority of the regular season, Jokic was the frontrunner to win his third consecutive MVP award. This would put him on a short list of Bull Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird as the only players in the history of the game to achieve this. However, some felt and voiced their opinions that Jokic winning a third straight MVP would be bad for the game of basketball as he had not achieved much in the postseason at that time.
One of the biggest proponents of this was Kendrick Perkins. Perk would take things even further than just saying it would be bad for basketball though. He would be quoted as saying, “We know NBA voters are white. Additionally, many NBA voters have admitted advanced analytics influence their decisions. These are tools that are primarily constructed and broadly used by white members in both the media and NBA teams… And if there was more diversity in the NBA voters this wouldn’t be a problem but when there are so many white voters with analytic backgrounds it ends up in groupthink. And Jokic by default becomes the standard for success and value to a team”.
Perkins would end up issuing a public apology after this statement, however, it signified a new low from the NBA media. Although Perkins is now singing a completely different tune and saying the media doesn’t talk about Jokic enough, the damage had already been done.
Jokic would end up losing out on his chance of being the fourth player to three-peat as the league’s MVP and would lose the award to Joel Embiid.
Never in the history of the league has a player had so much lobbying and narratives being created to try to discredit their accomplishments. Whether it be downplaying the impact of a potential title, or attempting to act as if Jokic is not a generational big, he has quickly become the most disrespected player in the league.
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