Theme week at the Denver Stiffs has nearly concluded, and what a week it’s been. There’s been no shortage of Nikola Jokic love from our staffers, and I’m struggling to fit all of the reasons I enjoy watching our main man play into just two columns.
I suspect my admiration for Jokic will only continue to grow as he leads the Nuggets to new heights, but for now I will add a few parting thoughts about what makes the Joker so much better than the King in my eyes.
He’s recreated the Nuggets’ brand
Back in 2016, the Nuggets hit a breakthrough as Jokic began to emerge as a strong potential lead for the struggling organization. A far cry from the Alan Iverson, and Carmelo Anthony days, the Nuggets didn’t really have a player to build the team around, and with no George Karl anymore their identity was murky at best.
Once Jokic burst onto the scene, the Nuggets’ future slowly started coming into focus. The road was bumpy, but over the past couple of seasons, the Jokic style of offense has become it’s own signature brand. What’s better is that it’s 100% Denver homegrown.
I’ve said before that the Nugg style is different from any other team in the league, and I think that uniqueness makes it, well, REALLY cool. The culture Jokic has developed is tangible, relatable, and the sales person in me loves that’s extremely marketable.
He’s revived pride in Nuggets basketball
That’s not to say it was ever embarrassing to be a Nuggets fan, but it’s a lot more fun to boast about your team winning than it is to defend their honor to the naysayers.
I’ve been openly critical of the way the Nuggets played over the past couple of seasons, but I never gave up hope that they would someday be something very special. While everyone was abandoning ship, the fans that have stuck around can have pride that they knew things would turn around.
Another reason to be proud of this team is that they made things happen on their own. I’m reiterating a previous point I’ve made, but it’s so easy to go out and buy a superstar to boost ticket sales and increase wins, but it’s the long term commitment to building an empire that instills pride in a team and its fan base.
The Spurs are another organization who (mostly) subscribe to the long-term grow-your-own-stars approach, and look at what its done for their success.
The Nuggets didn’t sell out, or perhaps they didn’t have the star attracting power so that they could sell out, but either way it makes me so happy to see our boys succeed after working so hard through their struggles to elevate as a unit led by Jokic.
He seems to be committed to the team for the long-haul
Although the Nuggets are on the upward path, they still have a long way to go. Fortunately, they “put a ring on it” in a sense and signed Jokic to a 5-year max deal ensuring that he would be around in his prime to take the Nuggets to where they want to go.
Of course I hope that final destination is an NBA Championship, but right now I don’t want to measure Jokic’s success on whether or not he brings Denver a ring, I’m interested to see how he can develop himself as a player, a leader, and a future mentor, and I hope I get to see all of those things while he’s wearing a Nuggets jersey.
I have great disdain for the NBA’s practice of trading players like kids trade candy on Halloween because I believe it dilutes teamwork and trust to the point where no sustainable culture can be built. The Nuggets are committed to Jokic, and from what I can tell he’s committed to them in return. Of course he has about 148 million reasons to stay committed, but I believe his commitment extends beyond money, and that increases my confidence in him as a player and a leader for the team’s future.
I’m sad that Jokic week is coming to an end, but I’m looking forward to next year and I hope we get to reflect back on all the wonderful things he did for the Nuggets in the post-season.