Nerves can obviously be high going into the NBA Finals, especially for a team who has never been there before. An inspirational, tone-setting speech could be critical in order to fully and properly harness all of the nervous energy percolating in a locker room. Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic, however, prefers to do his motivating on the basketball court.
Following Denver's Game 1 victory vs. the Miami Heat, Jokic was asked about being a vocal leader for his team. While others might dance around that question, the two-time MVP was his usual matter-of-fact self.
“I mean, no. We have veterans that are doing a really good job,” he said, per ClutchPoints. “If you listen to them, it's really smart what they're saying.”
Reporter: “Today or during the playoffs, do you ever speak to the team? Like a locker room speech?”
Nikola Jokic: *Shakes head* 😐
Then adds: “I mean, no. We have veterans that are doing a really good job… If you listen to them, it's really smart what they're… pic.twitter.com/HfAwRm6CCK
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 2, 2023
The face of a franchise is sometimes encouraged to light a fire under their teammates, but no one should doubt Jokic's leadership ability after seeing how he directs the game's most fluid and punishing offense every night. It can all fall apart if he does not command the respect and trust of his teammates. And besides, the 28-year-old could take a yearlong vow of silence if he continues to put together historically dominant performances like he did in his stellar NBA Finals debut Thursday.
Of course, the Serbian native's admission will only fuel the “Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets are boring” narrative that certain fans are determined to push at all costs. Neither Derek Jeter nor Stephen Curry are heralded as master orators, but they are eternally beloved all the same. Furthermore, they have no problem getting commercial offers.
Jokic's primary job is to take Denver to the pinnacle of the NBA. After a triple-double consisting of 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, he is just three wins away from fulfilling that monumental mission. The veterans on the team like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the ageless Jeff Green can handle the rah-rah speeches.
Because that's the thing about this Nuggets group. Each player has something of value to offer, and it all comes together to form a magnificent symphony. Jokic is the maestro.
And maestros don't have to speak to galvanize those around them.