There’s a charming feature on Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic, who’s been thriving in his first postseason, over at ESPN today. It addresses many questions that may have been lingering in viewers’ minds. To take just a few:
Why does he always look like he just fought a polecat before taking the court?
There’s a five-inch scar that runs across the top of his left arm near his shoulder and several other claw marks that come in all different sizes and shades of red. There are some fresh ones from the previous night, when the Nuggets won Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“All year round,” he says. “I have a long one here, a really big one from last year.
“I lead the league in scratches. I’m always like bleeding — I’m used to it. I am going to wear sleeves next year — 100 percent.”
At least there is sleeved-up Pajama Jokic to look forward to next year.
How does he feel about the doubters and haters?
“That story has been [with me] all my life,” Jokic says about surprising people who underestimate him based on his appearance. “To be honest, sometimes it is funny for me just because [sometimes what they say] it’s true, and [yet] I am still playing in the NBA.
“Someone said, ‘He’s not even in shape.’ I am playing in 80 games and he said that I’m not even in shape.”
That sound you hear in the distance is a Raymond Felton standing O.
What weight is he actually playing at?
Jokic is listed at 250 but says he’s playing between 275-280 — his preferred playing weight.
He jokes about the changes in his body from the time he arrived in Denver.
“There were not any muscles,” Jokic deadpans. “Now around 292, but I have a couple of muscles.”
“To be honest, I like to be a little bit heavier like how I am right now,” Jokic says. “I was lighter than this, say 15 pounds. But I didn’t feel right. Because the guys are pushing me, I was not that heavy, I was light. I just needed a little bit more weight to keep up with those guys.”
Officially listed NBA weights are a farce. (If you believe Joel Embiid is playing at 250 pounds, I have a waterfront property called “Kyle Lowry” to sell you for $31 million.) But that self-reported 292-pound figure would make Jokic one of the league’s heftiest players and help explain his magical offense and solid one-on-one defense in the post. If true, it’d also mean that Zion Williamson will be “only” the third-heaviest player in the NBA come fall.
What were the vices he had to conquer?
Jokic has made his share of sacrifices. After drinking three liters of Coke a day growing up in Serbia, Jokic had his last can of the soft drink on his first flight to Denver in 2015.
“I think it’s just mental,” Jokic says. “Like, don’t let Coke be stronger than you.”
Truly an inspirational message to kick off your weekend.