Earlier on Tuesday, the NBA announced that Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic is the recipient of the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player. The 26-year-old becomes the first player to earn the honour as a member of the Nuggets and is also the first player from Serbia to be selected as the NBA MVP. Jokic beat out competition from the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry and Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, who were both finalists for the award.
NBA MVP first-place votes this season (what stands out here?):— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 8, 2021
🏀Nikola Jokic 91
🏀Stephen Curry 5
🏀Chris Paul 2
🏀Joel Embiid 1
🏀Giannis Antetokounmpo 1
🏀Derrick Rose 1
Jokic has also been instrumental in guiding Denver into the second round of the NBA Playoffs as the team posted a 47-25 record and finished third in the Western Conference. However, Jokic has taken his game to the next level this season and much of it has been down to his incredible weight loss during the time the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19.
In his sixth NBA season, Jokic played all 72 games and averaged a career-high 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, a career-high 8.4 assists and 1.32 steals in 34.8 minutes. He made an NBA-leading 732 field goals and shot 56.6 percent from the field, 38.8 percent from three-point range and a career-high 86.8 percent from the free-throw line. Jokic als led the NBA in double-doubles with 60 and ranked second in triple-doubles with 16.
Jokic took serious advantage of the NBA’s COVID-19 shutdown. Prior to the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, there were plenty of concerns about the Serbian's game shape and weight despite his incredible displays for the Nuggets. Jokic entered the season listed at 284 pounds but in February 2020, said that he had lost 20-25 pounds during the season through diet and exercise.
Jokic is living out the opposite of the 'My Plans/2020' Meme. pic.twitter.com/I0IsmQJ5lp— theScore (@theScore) June 11, 2020
While the NBA season was suspended due to the COVID-19 in March 2020, Jokic took the time off to continue working on his fitness in the gym. When the season resumed in July, Jokic was almost unrecognizable and had slimmed down tremendously. Nuggets president Tim Connelly, at the time, said that Jokic sent him a picture, flaunting his abs. "He sent me a picture after working out in the gym and following a strict diet. No shirt on. He's got abs. I've never seen him have abs before."
No matter what this man does, this photo will always be the first thing that comes up!!— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) June 8, 2021
Congrats to Nikola Jokić on being crowned 2020-21 NBA MVP 👑 pic.twitter.com/rSVqYZYnvA
Jokic has always raised some eyebrows when it comes to his fitness level. However, a photo of young Jokic has been doing the rounds on social media after he won the 2020-21 MVP award. In the photo, it appeared as if Jokic's weight loss wasn't a problem he had to deal with recently.