Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was rewarded for an outstanding 2020-21 season with a well-earned NBA MVP award, and Shaquille O’Neal believes the honor signifies a potential shift in the league.
Jokic was officially announced as MVP on Tuesday night. The Nuggets superstar secured 91 of 101 first-place votes.
With the first Kia NBA MVP Award of his career, Nikola Jokić becomes the first player to earn the honor as a member of the @nuggets. He received 91 of the 101 first-place votes.— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) June 8, 2021
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Once Jokic’s MVP was made official, the Serbian center made an appearance on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” During the interview, Shaquille O’Neal suggested that Jokic’s MVP could mean that the “big man is back” in a league that has been guard/swingman/forward-dominant for quite some time.
Even the Nuggets were all over the theory espoused by Shaq on social media. The team also made note in the tweet of how Jokic is the first center to win MVP since O’Neal himself.
Along with Jokic being the first center since Shaq to win MVP, he also made it three consecutive seasons in which an international player has earned the honor. Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 NBA seasons.
Now that Jokic is league MVP, it means it’s the first time since Steve Nash (2005-06) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) did the same that two different international players won the award in consecutive seasons.
With Jokic's #KiaMVP win this year, two different internationally-born players have won in back-to-back years (Antetokounmpo in 2019-20) for the 2nd time. The first time was in 2005-06 (Nash) and 2006-07 (Nowitzki). https://t.co/TrAO6nQMDr— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 9, 2021
With the MVP distraction now out of the way, the onus is now on Jokic to lead the Nuggets to a big win to even up their Western Conference semifinals series with the Phoenix Suns at one game apiece after dropping Game 1 on Monday. Game 2 tips off Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET at Phoenix Suns Arena.