At first glance, Nikola Jokic and LeBron James could not be more different. Jokic isn't exactly the athlete James is as the Los Angeles Lakers star has lived above the rim and made a living off putting pressure on the opposing paint. However, as Denver Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said, that is the “only” difference between the two superstars.
Of course, upon hearing his Nuggets teammate's remark, Nikola Jokic, being the man of dry humor he is, joked about taking umbrage to Caldwell-Pope's comments. Yet, he remained humble about comparisons to one of the greatest basketball players of all time in LeBron James.
“That's really offensive. I'm joking,” Jokic said, much to the laughter of the reporters in the press room following the Nuggets' 132-126 victory over the Lakers. “To be compared with one of the best ever, or the best ever, I think it's really cool. But I don't know. We don't have similar games. Maybe we have a similar global game, if that makes any sense; we affect the game in different ways, but he's a really good player.”
"That's really offensive.
-Nikola Jokic, asked about KCP saying the only difference between him and LeBron James is that LBJ jumps higher… but Joker adds in seriousness:
"To be compared with one of the best ever, or the best ever, I think it's really cool." pic.twitter.com/0rLJglWrhj
— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) May 17, 2023
Time flies so fast. Almost 20 years have passed since the Cleveland Cavaliers took LeBron James first overall. And yet here he is, still playing at the highest level at age 38 for the Lakers. Thus, it's no surprise that a mere mention alongside one of the greatest to ever touch a basketball on planet earth is received as the highest praise, even by the rare player who can fancy himself as The King's peer, like Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
It's true that there are plenty of differences between the games of the two. The Nuggets star functions as an offensive hub in the high post, conducting the offense via handoffs, drop-offs, cross-court passes off the block and by utilizing the defensive attention his soft touch around the hoop draws. Meanwhile, James is a heliocentric offensive force, arguably the greatest pick-and-roll conductor of all time.
Nevertheless, their incredible basketball IQ, the know-how to stay one step ahead of their opponents and their unselfishness definitely make them more alike than one would think.