NBA

Jokic in 'legendary category' after leading Nuggets to first championship

By Sports Desk June 13, 2023

Nikola Jokic is now in "the legendary category" after he propelled the Denver Nuggets to victory in the NBA Finals.

Jokic capped a sensational postseason by sparking Denver's comeback from a 10-point second-quarter deficit on Monday.

The Serbian finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting along with 16 rebounds as the Nuggets won 94-89 against the Miami Heat to clinch the championship in Game 5.

For Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas, two-time NBA MVP Jokic must be considered among the very best.

"It puts him in the legendary category for what he's done statistically in the Finals," Thomas told ESPN.

"I don't know if there's anyone who's ever had a statistical run in the NBA Finals as a center as he had in these categories."

For Jokic, who can now add an NBA Finals MVP award to his long list of career accolades, it was a case of a job well done.

"It's good, we did the job. I think we played the best basketball – I'm not going to say in the postseason – but we were there, playing the best basketball," Jokic told reporters.

"Since day one, there was something different about this team, an energy, and every day since I've had this feeling. I'm not really an optimistic guy but that gave me hope that we can do something."

It has been a long road for the Nuggets to their first NBA title, but Jokic believes a team must experience downs as well as ups to be great.

"If you want to be successful, you need a couple of years to be bad, then be good, and then when you're good you need to fail and then figure it out," he added.

"I think experience isn't what happened to you, it's what you're going to do after what happened. There are no shortcuts, it's a journey and I'm glad to be part of this journey.

"It's a good thing to know you've done something that nobody believed [we could]. Every player believed, and that's the good thing."

In 20 postseason games, Jokic accumulated 600 points, 269 rebounds and 190 assists. Never before in NBA history had a player reached those numbers over a 20-game span.

Jokic also became the first player in NBA history to have 25+ points and 15+ rebounds on 75 percent shooting in a championship-clinching win.

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