Kiz: Can we officially declare this season’s race for MVP in the NBA over except the crying by Joel Embiid? The oddsmakers in Las Vegas now list Nuggets center Nikola Jokic as a near lock to win the award for a second year in a row. With profound respect to Hall of Famers Alex English and Dan Issel, there’s no question in my mind Jokic has already established himself as the greatest player in Nuggets history. Dare I say he’s now a threat to surpass John Elway as the greatest athlete in Denver sports history?
Singer: Jokic is already on the pantheon of Denver sports, but in order to jump Sir Elway, it’s going to take rings. Good thing that’s all that motivates Nikola Jokic. As he closes in on a second-consecutive MVP (an all-time party-crashing moment when the NBA would’ve preferred the symmetry of an Embiid win), Jokic still has one more mountain to climb. While it pains me, a Cleveland native, to give a hat-tip to the author of “The Drive,” Elway hung banners. I think it’s only a matter of time before Jokic gets his first one.
Kiz: You can’t make a list of the 10 greatest quarterbacks in NFL history without including Elway. But know what? In his prime at age 27, Jokic is now making a strong case to be included among the top 10 centers in NBA history. Given that he has played barely more than 500 games in the league, I have to put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and George Mikan ahead of Joker. But anybody else? Nope. And that’s so impressive it blows my mind.
Singer: The best basketball player in the world hails from Sombor, Serbia but calls Denver home from October to May. Once the 41st pick in the draft, consider the odds of Jokic ever becoming anything more than a rotation player in the league, let alone a two-time reigning MVP. At his current pace, he’s likely to leap, maybe, half of the aforementioned legends assuming he plays into his early-to-mid 30s. You know you’re in rare air when you start dancing with those who only require one name to be recognized.
Kiz: The Broncos are religion in our dusty old cowtown, so I know many fans will consider it blasphemy for even mentioning Jokic in the same breath as Elway. And I’m willing to accept Elway’s two championships as a quarterback puts him ahead of Jokic, so long as Broncomaniacs acknowledge Elway couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without Terrell Davis. What does Joker need to become the greatest player to ever represent Denver? No. 1: long-term health. No. 2: better teammates.
Singer: Jokic is a far-cry from the Stanford-bred, gleaming quarterback who took the Broncos, twice, to the promised land. But what he is, and what he represents, should be cherished. A selfless, humble teammate, a tireless, no-nonsense worker and a fierce competitor, Jokic already deserves significant elbow room in the all-time Denver debate. The fact that he couldn’t care less about such trivial matters of the media only makes him more interesting. What he is concerned about, though, is winning. Get him a healthy Jamal Murray, and let’s let that duo cook.