NBA’s most unlikely contender around Nikola Jokic for vanguard sports , Last summer, in the quiet hallways of a near-empty Pepsi Center,
One could find Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly, unkempt and scraggly , stumbling through the halls in a T-shirt and sweats: the uniform of a corporate man during a non-corporate month.
One day, Nikola Jokic, the great gregarious giant, the future of Nuggets basketball, bumbled through and quipped, “Is this what a president looks like?”
Connelly turned and took one look at his five-year, $147 million investment, a wind-burnt 250-pound center with the athletic profile of a 7-foot professional baseball pitcher: pudgy,
Slow-footed but endowed with the eyesight of an eagle and an arm that can whip a ball anywhere on the court at speeds both lightning-fast and lob-slow.
“Is this,” Connelly retorted, “what a max player looks like?” He’s lucky it does. Concerned about how Jokic’s body would translate to the NBA, every team passed on him in the 2014 NBA draft — some twice — before Connelly and the Nuggets stashed him overseas for a year.
“His aesthetics aren’t going to draw a lot of eyes,” Connelly tells Yahoo Sports. “His body type, his athleticism. It’s not unique to Nikola. We have several guys on our team that maybe don’t fit the mold relative to how productive they are.”
What better force to assuage the tension between collective success and individual stardom than a star who cares for none of stardoms trappings?
“I hate m… ,” Jokic starts telling Yahoo Sports, before pausing and remembering who is across from him. “Media,” he finishes, sheepish and befuddled, motioning his hands like he’s searching for the right word.