Feature | Basketball

History maker Nikola Jokic: Five things you didn't know about NBA superstar

Serbian big man Nikola Jokic continues to rip up the record books in the NBA, find out more about him here

By Svetozar Pavlovic and Andrew Binner ·

Nikola Jokic is rocking the NBA.

The Serbian basketball giant was at the centre of another historic night as the Denver Nuggets recorded an epic comeback win to advance to the Western Conference finals against LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers

They became the first team in NBA history to come back from 3-1 down twice in the same post-season when they rolled the Los Angeles Clippers 104-89 in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Jokic stacked 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists, joining Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan as the only players to record a 20-rebound triple-double in a playoff game - and Jokic is the first to do it in a Game 7.

Serbia fans watched in awe on a proud night for European basketball and Jokic, a Rio 2016 silver medallist, had some big words after the game.

“We are just not accepting that somebody’s better than us,” he said.

"Nobody wants us here, nobody thinks that we can do something. And we proved to ourselves and to everybody that we can." - Nikola Jokic

The Nuggets believe

Nuggets coach Michael Malone backed up his star centre: “Our goal was never to get to a Game 7,” he said.

“Our goal when we started this whole season was to win a championship, and as outrageous as that may sound for people outside of our group, we never lost sight of that.”

Five things you didn't know about Nikola Jokic

With Jokic trending worldwide, here are five things you may not have known about Serbia's big man:

1. 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 cleaned barns while training to become a harness horse rider.

2. 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!

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3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.