NBA Legend Bill Walton: Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić ‘Is the Best Player in the World’

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 12: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets waits for a free throw during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on February 12, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

To Hall of Fame center Bill Walton, there is no better basketball player in the world than Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić.

“His celebration of life through basketball, his focus on the team … he’s better than perfect. He’s Nikola Jokic,” Walton told Bennett Durando of the Denver Post. “He’s the best player in the world. I watch a lot of Denver Nuggets basketball, and every time I watch, I just get a smile on my face. It’s fantastic.”

Walton, of course, is one of the best centers in NBA history, having won two NBA titles, an MVP award and a Sixth Man of the Year award. He also earned two All-Star selections over the course of his career, which was cut short due to injuries.

Jokić, who is in just his ninth season with the Nuggets, is likely bound for the Hall of Fame himself. The Serbian is a two-time MVP, six-time All-Star and an NBA champion. He is also the favorite to win this year’s MVP award.

The 29-year-old is averaging 26.0 points, 12.2 rebounds and 9.1 assists in 55 games while shooting 58.4 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Walton has long raved about Jokić.

After the superstar helped the Nuggets win the 2023 NBA title, Walton defined what makes the big man such an elite player in a June interview with Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe:

“I had the privilege of watching Pelé play soccer, Joe Montana play football, and Larry Bird play basketball. These guys saw something before it happened. Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein. They saw the future. Tony Hawk revolutionized the realm of the possible in skateboarding. And Jokic sees things before they happen. His decision-making is spectacular.

“What it comes down to is that Jokic is just smarter than the other guys. That’s what makes a champion.

“Think of chess. Your move dictates the opponent’s move. And with a successful move, you make the foe helpless. That’s what Jokic does to the opposition.”

Jokić is hoping to add to his legacy by winning another title this year, though the Nuggets face much stiffer competition in the Western Conference with the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers above them in the standings.

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