We Can All Relax, Nikola Jokic Made It Home In Time For His Horse Races. Finals MVP Isn’t Here For American Celebrity

2023 NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic made it home to Sombor, Serbia, in time for his horse races on Sunday. The Denver Nuggets big man was weary last Monday after his team clinched their first ever NBA title when he was told the championship parade would take place two days later. Jokic is the best player in the world and a champion, but he’s not overawed by the idea of American celebrity.

Harness Racing

Thousands of local supporters were on hand at the local horse racing track where Jokic was watching his family-owned horses compete in harness races. There were T-shirts with Jokic’s portrait, some reading “Be the Next Champion” and “Sombor, the Town of Champions,” there were also people wearing Jokic’s No. 15 Nuggets jersey.

Jokic attended with his family and friends but did not speak to local reporters. His father said he wouldn’t be answering questions.

“He told me ‘Dad, I have had enough of publicity during these past few days,'” Branislav Jokic said. “And I believe him.”

This is the reality with Nikola Jokic. He doesn’t want to be a celebrity anywhere. At home or America.

He’s excellent at his job. The best in the world. When he’s doing his job he’ll speak to media as required but anything beyond that is a no.

Jokic has routinely said basketball is something he is good at but it doesn’t define him. There are many other things in his life that he’s passionate about and likes.

We know horses are a big one. According to his father, he wanted to be a horseman.

“He started growing, both in height and in size, and he started to become aware that he could be a basketball player, but he had a great desire in those days,” Branislav said. “He would say, ‘Dad, I want to become a horseman.’ And I used to tell him: ‘Son, become a basketball player first, and you’ll become a great horseman later.”

What Responsibility Does Jokic Have To The Game?

Being a horseman in Serbia wouldn’t bring anything close to the fanfare being the best basketball player in the world would, and that’s clearly how Jokic would prefer it.

Nikola Jokic was born in 1995 amid the Yugoslav Wars, started by the now deceased politician Slobodan Milošević. Growing up amid that kind of turmoil it would make sense that peace and tranquility would be things that Jokic seeks. The fame and celebrity of NBA life doesn’t align with that.

The league has a bit of a problem on its hands. They would like to promote Jokic, as would Nike. But given his disdain for the spotlight it’s going to take some convincing. Jokic doesn’t owe the public every detail of his life, nor does he need to show up on every commercial.

But he does have a responsibility as the game’s best player, to promote the league and be a good steward. The collective basketball media will need to be better about how they try and connect with him to tell stories and he will have to do a few more interviews outside of his mandatory requirements.

But make no mistake, he’s no celebrity. Nor does he have to be.

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