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Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić named NBA MVP for third time in four seasons


By Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokić was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player on Wednesday, marking the third time he has been awarded the honor in four seasons.

The 29-year-old Serbian averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game this season – all in the top 10 across the league – while helping lead the defending champion Nuggets to a 57-25 record and the second seed in the Western Conference.

Jokić becomes the ninth player in NBA history to win the award at least three times.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record with six MVP titles, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell have won it five times, and Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James four times.

Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone have also won it on three occasions.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came second in the voting and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić finished third.

Jokić thanked his teammates and coaches when asked about his thoughts on his string of MVP awards.

“Without them, I am nothing,” Jokić told NBA on TNT. “Coaches, players, organization, medical staff … It’s all one big circle. I cannot be what I am without them.

“There are a lot of players that deserve it, it’s probably details and small things [that decide the result].”

This is the sixth consecutive year an international player has won the award. The last American player to win the honor was James Harden in the 2017-18 season.

In the 2023-24 season, Jokić became only the second person in NBA history – after Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 – to register 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 700 assists in a season.

Jokić ranked 10th in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game and third in assists per game and second for double-doubles (68) and triple-doubles (25).

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone lauded Jokić in February after the player racked up a then league-leading 15th triple-double of the season.

“He’s a world champion and he’s a Finals MVP because, every night, just his ability to be great for himself, but more importantly, his ability to make everyone around him better – and that truly is the definition of greatness,” Malone told reporters.

“And we have been spoiled. I’m sure some of us do find ourselves maybe taking it for granted, but just remind yourself that there’s not many guys like Nikola Jokić that walk through those doors and appreciate every opportunity that you have to watch him play.”

The Nuggets will need every ounce of Jokić’s three-time MVP talent when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

The defending champions are 2-0 down after losing two straight at home to begin the Western Conference semifinals, with Minnesota’s league-best defense so far effectively stifling Jokić and his teammates.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

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