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Nikola Jokic is an NBA champion, and fans are obsessed with the way he celebrates

Probably thinking about horses.
Justin Edmonds
Getty Images
Probably thinking about horses.

He's also the king of work-life balance.

Who is he? Nikola Jokic, the two-time MVP and Serbian native who is credited with leading the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA championship, with the victory over the Miami Heat on Monday.

  • The Nuggets beat the Heat 94-89 in game 5, with Jokic contributing 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists.
  • The starting center — aka The Joker — has continued his standout form of recent years, while also attracting attention for a slight controversy involving another team's owner, and being open about his boundaries prioritizing a work-life balance.
  • Just last month, Jokic shared that family came before anything else for him: "Basketball is not the main thing in my life, and is probably never going to be."
  • What's the big deal? There are plenty of factors contributing to Jokic's stardom aside from his athletic capabilities: his humble origins, his laser focus. But what's been grabbing attention from even the non-NBA fans is how chill he's been about handling his historic victory.

    Here's what he had to say after Monday's game:

    We succeeded in our jobs and we won the whole thing. It's an amazing feeling. But like I said before, it's not everything in the world. ... There is [a] bunch of things that I like to do. Probably that's a normal thing. Nobody likes his job, or maybe they do. They're lying. But it's a good feeling.

    There was also this golden moment during his post-game interview where he was candid about post-game celebrations:

    And then again, when his phone was blowing up for *some godforsaken reason*

    And honestly, can you blame him? The husband, and father of one, has been putting in plenty of hours as of late. Maybe he's ready to relax. Blowing off some steam with a drink might help.

    Or maybe it's not his kind of party. He's also on that line between Millennial and Gen Z, which can explain a lot about his modern attitude towards work. And ennui.

    That's more like it:

    Even so, he still seems appreciative of where he's gotten. And according to his father Branislav Jokic, who spoke with the Associated Press, it's been a long time coming:

    He had something special within him. I rarely mention it today, but I simply knew that he would be a good basketball player. But as to what heights he would reach, nobody could have known then.

    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. 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.

    So, what now?

  • Jokic mentioned in a post-game interview that Sundays are dedicated to horse racing. Safe to say, he'll be enjoying his pets, family and a well deserved rest in Serbia this summer.
  • Ride on, brother, ride on.
  • Learn more:

  • The Denver Nuggets have won the NBA Finals for the first time in the team's history
  • Novak Djokovic wins the French Open men's singles, securing his 23rd Grand Slam title
  • Brittney Griner is confronted by a right-wing media 'provocateur' at airport
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Corrected: June 13, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
    A previous version of this story referred to a controversy involving another team's coach. In fact, the controversy involved the other team's owner.
    Manuela López Restrepo
    Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.
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