Shaquille O’Neal hyped over Nikola Jokic winning MVP: ‘The big man is back’
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was rewarded for an outstanding 2020-21 season with a well-earned NBA MVP award, and Shaquille O’Neal believes the honor signifies a potential shift in the league.
Jokic was officially announced as MVP on Tuesday night. The Nuggets superstar secured 91 of 101 first-place votes.
Once Jokic’s MVP was made official, the Serbian center made an appearance on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” During the interview, Shaquille O’Neal suggested that Jokic’s MVP could mean that the “big man is back” in a league that has become guard/swingman-dominant for quite some time.
Even the Nuggets were all over the theory espoused by Shaq on social media. The team also made note in the tweet of how Jokic is the first center to win MVP since O’Neal himself.
Along with Jokic being the first center since Shaq to win MVP, he also made it three consecutive seasons in which an international player has earned the honor. Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 NBA seasons. Now that Jokic is league MVP, it means it’s the first time since Steve Nash (2005-06) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) did the same that two international players won the award in consecutive seasons.
With the MVP distraction now out of the way, the onus is on Jokic to lead the Nuggets to a big win to even up their Western Conference semifinals series with the Phoenix Suns at one game apiece after dropping Game 1 on Monday. Game 2 tips off Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET at Phoenix Suns Arena.