The Denver Nuggets have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. At 21-10, they’re at the top of the Western Conference standings (for now), and they boast one of the NBA’s premier talents at the center position in Nikola Jokic, the Serbian wunderkind whose all-around skill set is like it was made to spec in a futuristic basketball laboratory.
Jokic and the Nuggets traveled to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Wednesday for a Boxing Day showdown (not everyone makes the Christmas Day slate), and prior to tip off, a reporter asked Gregg Popovich to offer his thoughts on the fourth-year big man, specifically the way he’s “revolutionizing” the center position.
Now. we all know Pop is notoriously hard on the media, but he found a whole new to make them squirm on Wednesday, zeroing in on what he apparently perceives as poor word choice.
“When I think of revolution, I think of people like Che Guevara, Ivan Illich, Lenin… I don’t really think of Jokic as quite a revolutionary. So I think you’re a bit hyperbolic there. But he is one heck of a player. When you look at him… he won’t take it wrong. He’s a good guy. We were in Belgrade together. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s a tad pudgy, you know? And he doesn’t jump out of the gym. He doesn’t run that fast. But he might be one of the smartest players in the league, and he’s got skills, and he knows how to use them. And he enjoys the hell out of himself out there. He’s been very important for them, obviously.”
So there you have it. Clearly, when it comes to grandiose player evaluations, Pop has decided that this aggression will not stand. But in the parlance of our times, “revolutionary” is perfectly acceptable usage in this context, as it commonly means to change or alter something drastically.
We understand that there are rules, that this isn’t Vietnam, but this reporter isn’t out of their element in this instance. Who knows, maybe Pop just isn’t in to the whole brevity thing. Also, “pudgy” is not the preferred nomenclature here. They prefer plus-size Americans now.