In a world full of people (and especially professional athletes) who have an outsized sense of self-importance, words cannot begin to describe how refreshing it is to have arguably the best player in the NBA right now put his own stellar play, basketball, and professional sports in general in the proper context.
Denver Nuggets superstar and two-time NBA league MVP Nikola Jokic has always been a different breed of “celebrity.”
That dry humor was on perfect display when Jokic spoke to the media ahead of the NBA Finals, which begin on June 1.
But take note of the message buttressing Jokic’s response — behind the laughter, there’s a genuinely good message that is being promoted:
“Nah, this cannot help you.”
Jokic with a straightforward answer to whether becoming a father comes with skills that translate to basketball 😅#NBAFinals presented by @YouTubeTV ⤵
📅 Game 1: Thursday, 6/1, 8:30pm/et on ABC pic.twitter.com/2AwLQ9Ed1s
— NBA (@NBA) May 27, 2023
“How have you grown, and what have you learned from being a dad?” a reporter asked Jokic. “And have you noticed any of those skills translating to being a better basketball player?”
Whereas most NBA stars may have given some empty platitude about learning a greater sense of responsibility or learning how to better function on less sleep, Jokic didn’t mince his words.
“Nah,” Jokic said matter-of-factly. “That cannot help you.”
Jokic, appropriately nicknamed “The Joker,” let the reporters laugh for a second before elaborating.
“I knew that even before that is basketball is not [the] main thing in my life,” Jokic explained. “And probably never going to be. Because, to be honest I like it, [but] I have something at home that is more important than basketball.”
The Nuggets center explained that that’s probably the main takeaway from his relatively new fatherhood.
“I knew that [family is more important than basketball], but this is going to prove me that I’m correct,” Jokic said.
The Nuggets star became a father in September 2021, and his young daughter became an instant internet hit after a viral moment with her father during the Nuggets’ second round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
Nikola Jokic and his daughter shared a moment after Game 2, pointing to their ring finger ❤️ 💍 pic.twitter.com/XQWJrDHtuV
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 2, 2023
The younger Jokic pointed to her finger, a gesture her dad reciprocated, to reference the championship ring the Nuggets were pursuing.
Again, how refreshing is it to have an NBA superstar who’s a family-first, anti-diva? Jokic doesn’t come off as an NBA superstar (which he is) who happens to be a father. He comes off as a father who happens to be an NBA superstar.
And that perspective and mindset is so important in 2023. The downside to fatherlessness is well-worn territory at this point, but it doesn’t make the problem any more dire.
Jokic is obviously a present father, but it’s the lessons he’s imparting that take him from “present” to “good.”
In a modern society that seems to grow increasingly antagonistic against nuclear families in favor of soulless things like a relentless pursuit of career or material wealth, Jokic’s brutal honesty that basketball is “probably never going to be” the most important thing in his life is an incredible thing to hear from him.
Family and priorities so often get warped when discussing celebrities (“Did you see who Celebrity X is cheating on Y with?”) that it highlights how tragically rare comments like Jokic’s are.
Yes, career and such are important, but largely in the context of them being a means to supporting your family. Family should never take a backpedal to career.
Looking at most modern celebrities talk about “the hustle,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that putting family before career is actually backwards.
Jokic is nothing like modern celebrities, and that 40-second snippet of him discussing fatherhood is the perfect example why.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.