Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been voted this season’s NBA MVP, the league announced Tuesday.
“It doesn’t affect me that much, to be honest,” Jokic said, via the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver. “When I see the list, of course there’s great names. It’s an honor. I never thought I would be on the list. It’s a surprise.
“I’d rather win a championship than MVP.”
Jokic, 26, is 6-foot-11 and put together averages of 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists — reaching rare air for a man in the middle in nearly averaging a triple-double on the season.
In the process, he breaks the back-to-back league MVP streak of Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. So all three of the past three NBA MVP awards will have gone to a foreign-born player.
Jokic, a native of Serbia, was drafted with the No. 41 overall pick in 2014. He becomes just the second second-round draft pick to win league MVP, and first center to win it since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
“I didn’t even think about being in the NBA [as a kid],” he said on TNT. “My goal, when I started to play basketball back home, was playing in the EuroLeague, because that was the closest top league to my country … Then the Nuggets drafted me, it was an opportunity for me to become an NBA player. I think I did a good job of using that opportunity.”
MVP voting results: Jokic/Embiid/Curry/Giannis/CP3. A surprise first-place vote for Derrick Rose pic.twitter.com/4O1PvapFna
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) June 8, 2021