Nikola Jokic wasn’t asked about ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins late Wednesday, but he brought him up, unsolicited, nonetheless.
Jokic was asked whether he’s tried to ignore the ongoing MVP noise as it’s grown in volume over the last week or so. Somewhat surprisingly, he volunteered that he watched Perkins’ comments on YouTube.
“I just find it interesting to say something just to … give those guys something to talk about,” Jokic said.
Jokic says paying attention to the MVP conversation is unhealthy so he stays away with it. pic.twitter.com/wa67gyAcAI
— Darren McKee (@DMacRadio) March 9, 2023
Within Jokic’s dry, deadpan humor, not to mention a foreign language, it’s occasionally difficult to discern whether he’s being serious or not. But by bringing up Perkins, whose name wasn’t even invoked in the question, it’s fair enough to assume the various narratives have reached Jokic’s radar in some capacity.
Asked specifically whether that’s all that was going on, and that the media just needed something to talk about, Jokic added another interesting wrinkle.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I think that’s not really healthy.”
Within Jokic’s answer, he also claimed he was largely unaware of what was being said on a national scale.
“I don’t even follow it, to be honest,” he said following the Nuggets’ humbling loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night.
But to think Jokic is as naïve as he sometimes claims to be is shortsighted. Multiple people within the organization who spoke to The Post said he’s aware, on some level, of what’s being said about him publicly.
He’s well aware that Perkins accused him of padding his stats. After posting his 100th career triple-double in Houston, Jokic offered a wry response to a question about reaching the milestone.
“When you’re stat-padding it’s easy, you know?” Jokic said.
Famously off social media, it was a rare instance where Jokic acknowledged a critic and the first indication he was aware of Perkins’ opinion.
In an interview with The Post recently, Jokic insisted he never asked for his two prior MVP awards or the spotlight that inevitably followed.
“A lot of the media, it’s not something that I ask for it, it’s not something that I wanted, people give it to me,” Jokic said. “You can just see, not the hate, just all the bad things … I don’t know why people are saying something like that in my direction or whatever.”
Averse to individual attention, a conversation about his MVP credentials is likely the last thing Jokic or the Nuggets want to discuss right now as the postseason approaches.
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Jokic didn’t specify, nor was he asked, which video he watched of Perkins. The latest controversy came when Perkins invoked race by suggesting that 80% of MVP voters were white, which helped to explain Jokic’s prior two awards. ESPN issued a correction on Wednesday.
“The panel is much more diverse than what was portrayed by Kendrick Perkins, and we wanted to make sure that we corrected that.”
The Nuggets have navigated and largely ignored the ongoing conversation as they’ve assembled the top record in the West and closed in on the No. 1 seed. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on numerous occasions he’s indifferent to what people think about his franchise superstar. For the most part, Jokic can claim the same.
But Wednesday’s admission was different and a sign that perhaps he hears more than he ever lets on.
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