Nikola Jokic is famously one of the NBA’s most laid back superstars. His initial reaction to winning his first NBA championship was, quite literally, “We can go home now,” and he was mad he had to stay in Denver for the parade because he thought it might make him miss a horse race on Sunday — although he did end up loving the parade.
On the court, he tends to be fairly stoic and it can seem at times that he doesn’t even really care all that much — with the notable exceptions of his frustration with referees, propensity for an occasional over the top retaliation foul, and when the other team’s owner tries to hold the ball. That relatively quiet nature means when he does get fired up and vocalize his frustrations to his teammates, they tend to perk up and take note.
Thomas Bryant spent last season in Denver and only remembered one time the two-time MVP really lit into the team, recalling the timeout during Game 3 of the NBA Finals when cameras caught Jokic ripping into his teammates. As Bryant told Gilbert Arenas and the rest of the Gil’s Arena crew, Jokic was just pleading with his teammates to play the right way and just run the offense.
Thomas Bryant describes the moment in Game 3 when Jokic lost his temper with the team. (Clip of timeout added).
"I don't f**king care about scoring. Just play the right f**king way" pic.twitter.com/hwvttiP6iR
— n i k o l a e s t h e t i c (@nikolaesthetic) August 9, 2023
I do enjoy listening to guys who have played with Jokic talk about him, because they all say the same two things to hammer home the kind of player he is. The first is that he really, truly doesn’t care about his own scoring and just wants to get everyone involved. The second is gushing about how easy he is to play with and how freakish his abilities are to just break down defenses. Watching Jokic it almost doesn’t make sense how easy he makes the game look, and even other NBA athletes, who are the elite of the elite, are somewhat baffled by how simple the game is to him. Bryant’s the latest to make those points, but he also loved seeing the fire from Jokic and seeing that passion that tends to get held inside come out in that moment. Given how the rest of the Finals went, I think it’s fair to say his point was taken and they ran the offense how it’s supposed to all the way to a title.