Nikola Jokic mistakenly thought he was NBA All-Star Draft's last pick
Nikola Jokic mistakenly thought he was last pick of All-Star Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nikola Jokic wasn't the last pick in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game draft. But that was news to him.
As LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams ahead of Sunday night's exhibition game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, the last two players available were Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen and the Denver Nuggets center.
Since James used his first starter selection on Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, there was an argument to be made for him to go with the Finnisher over the Joker.
But before James announced his pick, Jokic got up from his chair and walked toward the NBA's all-time scoring leader in an apparent effort to ensure he wasn't the final pick of the draft. James then announced Jokic as his selection.
In the moment, it seemed like a hilariously clever (and justifiable) move from the two-time reigning NBA MVP to avoid being the last pick.
However, after Team Giannis defeated Team LeBron in the All-Star Game, Jokic told reporters that he didn't realize Markkanen was still on the stage and that he walked over to James thinking he was the last pick. He felt bad about the move afterward.
Nikola Jokic said he thought he was the last player to be taken in the draft before the game, and that he didnât realize Lauri Markkanen was up there still. He said he felt bad about it.
Markkanen, who was in the room still, said, âIt all worked outâ after his team won.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 20, 2023
Last pick or not, Jokic wasn't surprised that he didn't get drafted earlier.
“I wouldn’t pick me, either," he said. "This game isn’t for me.”
"I would not draft myself either."
Nikola Jokic after being picked 7th from the Starters Pool tonight ð¤£#NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/ZpOQfsldUE
— NBA (@NBA) February 20, 2023
Jokic, who was making his fifth All-Star appearance, posted four points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in 20 minutes of action.