Nikola Jokić is trying to get back to his horses. Immediately.
After scoring 151 points with 70 rebounds and 36 assists across five games to beat the Miami Heat for the NBA title Monday, the 2023 Finals MVP was shocked to learn that he'd be expected to appear at a championship parade with the rest of the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.
He went from asking, "When is parade?" in a postgame news conference to quickly devising a plan to get back to his native Serbia as soon as it's finished. To make that happen, he wants the help of team president Josh Kroenke.
While speaking with the NBA TV crew, Jokić interrupted a mention of the upcoming title festivities. "Yes, I need to go home. On Sundays, I have my horse racing," he said excitedly.
His tone shifted a bit when asked how he'd get to Sombor on such a short turnaround. His hometown is nearly 6,000 miles from Denver, and the average flight time is about 12 hours.
"I don't know how I'm going to arrive. Thursday, late. Friday, maybe," he said. "I'm going to ask Josh [Kroenke] to give me a plane."
Jokić was met with affirming reactions, including "He'll definitely let you get the team plane" and "I think you deserve that."
Gleefully, he raised a triumphant fist when he realized he had support. "I did it on TV," he said. "I put him under the pressure. Yes, I did. I don't feel bad at all."
"On Sundays, I have my horse racing" ☠️
Even after being crowned champion, The Joker is only worried about one thing 🤣🏇 pic.twitter.com/n3VmVZzk3I
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 13, 2023
It's no secret that Jokić loves Serbia and his horses. Kevin Durant hit the nail on the head earlier in the offseason when he noted in a now-deleted Tweet that the humble star just wants to "Go to work and go home, FaceTime his horses and hop in the pool."
That observation came after head coach Michael Malone and some other Nuggets personnel surprised Jokić in Sombor to commemorate his back-to-back regular-season MVP awards in May.
It was a special moment indeed — Jokić's family, his team and his horses all in one place.
Surprise in Sombor✈️🇷🇸 We flew to Serbia to surprise the BACK-TO-BACK MVP! And, wow, this moment was special. pic.twitter.com/aFvIEDgnSj
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 11, 2022
Now that Jokić has etched his place in NBA lore as one of the league's legends, it's clear that legacy isn't one of his concerns. After the job was done, he didn't seem to enjoy the customary champagne showers. He shoved teammate Jamal Murray into a pool with him, which was probably the happiest he looked during the celebrations, aside from when he was seen with his wife and daughter.
Kroenke was in the thick of Monday night's celebrations with Jokić and the team. The joy of the franchise's first championship could definitely steer him toward lending the team plane to get his star home.