In quest for NBA championship, goofy Nikola Jokic growing into Joker the Grouch


Where did our silly Joker go?

He’s a father, a husband, a $264 million man and the two-time MVP now. Sometimes, the weight of it shows in the slump of his shoulders or impatience in his eyes.

At age 27, entering his eighth NBA season, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is done messing around, and he has no time for your foolishness.

With guard Jamal Murray riding shotgun again and a healthy Michael Porter Jr. ready to roll, the Nuggets bandwagon is full of expectation and noisy with optimism.

Championship or bust. Right?

Jokic doesn’t want to hear it. Loose talk? That’s cheap.

“Just because we have our players back doesn’t mean we’re going to be better,” Jokic said.

He notes it will take time for Murray to round back into shape after missing 18 months since tearing up his knee. While encouraged MPJ is back on the court, showing no ill effects from chronic back issues, his defense is a work in progress.

After carrying the Nuggets for two seasons, but not getting very far in the playoffs, Jokic has given a different vibe since returning to his NBA team from Serbia. He’s dead serious. Not as quick with a smile. All business since signing that great, big, fat contract extension. Heck, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear our lovable, overgrown kid has morphed into the freakin’ adult in Denver’s locker room.

And this Joker the Grouch is a good thing, methinks.

“Nikola is not always happy. When he was a rookie, everyone called him the Joker. A big, goofy guy, always laughing,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.


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