Five things you didn't know about basketball star Nikola Jokic

The Denver Nuggets and Serbia player is one of the NBA's brightest lights and one of the stars at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but some of his vices and hobbies might surprise you...

One of the biggest names at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup on show is Serbia's Nikola Jokic.

At seven foot tall (2.13m) the centre is used to attention, having helped the Denver Nuggets to the NBA Conference semi-finals in 2018-19.

Jokic was also part of his nation's Olympic silver-medal winning team at Rio 2016.

So his basketball credentials are not in doubt, but who is the man behind the impressive statistics?

Here, we take a look at some of the quirkier aspects of a man that is sure to star at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Nikola Jokic didn't even like basketball at first!

That's right. The 2018-19 NBA All-Star had to be dragged to basketball training by his father when he was 10 years old.

By the age of 13 he stopped playing completely, as he wanted to pursue horse racing.

He even had to clean barns while training to become a harness horse rider.

Brought up on Magic

Jokic eventually came back to basketball at 15, and started gorging on YouTube clips of Magic Johnson.

The young Serb loved watching the American's passing game, combined with Hakeem Olajuwon's mid-range plays.

He also spent hours watching Michael Jordan because... it was Michael Jordan!

A physical challenge

Natural talent will only take you so far.

When he came up to his first professional club “Mega”, Jokic was not able to do a single press-up.

The club subsequently started him on a special strength program with a personal trainer to improve his physique.

From sugar, to slam dunk!

It wasn't only Jokic's small muscles that were a problem at first.... he also had a bit of a belly!

Addicted to Coca Cola, he used to drink around 4 litres on a daily basis. He had to drop his addiction and change his eating habits when he signed with Denver, and it helped him lose 14 kg just before the start of his first NBA season.

The 24-year-old now weighs a lean and mean 113kg.

Living the dream...

Imagine waking up from a sleep to find out you had been drafted into an NBA roster. That's what happened to Nikola Jokic.

After the Denver Nuggets made their move for him in the 2014 NBA Draft, Jokic's brother woke him up to tell him the news.

And his reaction? He hung-up and continued to sleep, thinking it was all dream.

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