Nikola Jokic is widely regarded as one of the best players in the NBA at the moment. For him, he believed that being a professional basketball player was never in his cards. However, the Denver Nuggets superstar already has two League MVPs under his name and is on his way to potentially becoming a first-time champion. Jokic is heavily criticized for his lack of athleticism. Regardless, he is still extremely good at what he does.
The former MVP spent most of his childhood in Sombor, Serbia. He revealed that it wasn’t until his last year in Serbia that he began taking basketball seriously.
According to The Players Tribune, he said, “I start to really practice basketball every day only in my last year in my hometown of Sombor.” He continued, “I figure out that I can live from basketball. It can be my job and my love at the same. I knew I could be good. I didn’t know that I could be in the NBA.”
Back in 2011, Nikola Jokić struggled finding someone to play pickup basketball with in Serbia.
He’s now a two-time MVP and heading to his first NBA Finals 👏 pic.twitter.com/cdjS6tQuU1
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 23, 2023
He added that he only believed he could only make it big in Europe. Jokic said that the NBA was never something he loyally followed but when he did, he adored Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Jordan. He claimed that his brothers influenced his affection for the sport of basketball. It was only a matter of time before he excelled in Europe and made his way into the NBA. Even then, he was only a second-round pick.
Nikola Jokic was an amateur horse racer before going pro in basketball
Before Nikola Jokic found his interest in basketball, he proudly competed in another sport. Horse racing is a sport that is prominent in several European countries. Jokic loved to participate in horse races when he was young. “It was all about horses for me,” he said. The five-time All-Star claims that he was pretty decent at the sport as well.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 31, 2023
He revealed that at the tender age of 13, he only wanted to be in the stables. “I was going to horse race. I didn’t even practice basketball that much… went to the stables, just to be the stable boy. That was my life. I raced. Not professionally, but amateur,” Jokic said. He mentioned that he was placed fourth in one of his races.
As a teenager, he was severely overweight which negatively impacted his chances of being an elite-level basketball star. On realizing how important it was to maintain great shape, he tried his absolute best to keep up with the ideal physical standards. Jokic’s impeccable passing capabilities come from his experience playing the point guard position back in Europe. His dedication to becoming great is what brought him to this level.