Michael Malone claims Nikola Jokic “best player in the world” after brilliant performance vs Celtics in remembrance of Dejan Milojevic

In a thrilling match that was played with a heavy heart and a heavier skill set, the Denver Nuggets, led by their Serbian superstar Nikola Jokic, secured a crucial 102-100 victory against the Boston Celtics.

The game that was played with playoff intensity was not one that was played with the intention of just putting an end to Boston’s remarkable 20-0 undefeated home streak, but it was a game that gave the Joker the needed push to grab a win in honor of his former coach, Dejan Milojevic.

Michael Malone lauds Nikola Jokic

On January 20, 2024, the Nuggets came across the challenging task of matching up with the top team from the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, at TD Garden, also a team with a perfect home record this season.

However, on the other end, the Denver Nuggets’ Serbian maestro, Nikola Jokic, was carrying the weight of a personal loss, which added an extra layer of complexity to the game for the star.

Just days before the matchup, the basketball world mourned over the passing of the Golden State Warriors’ assistant coach, Dejan Milojevic, whose legacy extended beyond the Warriors’ premises; He was also a mentor and coach to Jokic during their time together at Belgrade-based team KK Mega Basket.

Despite having to carry that heavy heart to a competitive game, Jokic was able to delivered an absolute stellar performance by recording 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Jokic’s ability to channel his emotions into an extraordinary display of skill, impressed both his teammates and opponents alike. The Nuggets’ head coach, Michael Malone, expressed his pride in Jokic, and claiming that Jokic is “the best player in the world.”

In a post-game interview, Malone said, “Nikola went out there, he honored Deki’s memory and his legacy by playing at the level he played at. It’s not easy to do with a heavy heart, but Nikola is a special person, obviously. That’s why Nikola is the best player in the world”

Nikola Jokic and Dejan Milojevic’s relationship

In the heart of basketball excellence and admiration, there’s a connection that surpasses bloodlines and spanning beyond the NBA courts, that is one with Nikola Jokic, the Denver Nuggets superstar, and Dejan Milojevic, the late Golden State Warriors assistant coach.

They both may not have been family by blood, but their basketball bond definitely forged an unbreakable link that left an lasting mark on the sport of international basketball. Both hailed from the same Serbian roots and their connection together thrived on a shared passion for basketball, transforming them into more than just a coach and player relationship.

The timeline of their connection traces way back to 2012-2015 when Milojevic coached Jokic at the Mega Basket, which is a professional basketball club in Serbia. Milojevic’s influence extended beyond the court in shaping Jokic’s basketball upbringing and laying the firm foundation for his glorious career in the NBA.

The news of Milojevic’s passing prompted messages of love and support from the NBA community for the former coach’s loved and dear ones, with coaches like Steve Kerr reaching out to Nikola Jokic. Kerr’s message was conveyed through Nuggets’ head coach, Michael Malone, that highlighted Milojevic’s deep affection for Jokic.

It is without a doubt that beyond the wins and the losses on the hardwood, the Milojevic-Jokic connection stands as a testament for many today of the profound influence that a coach can have on a player’s life, one that certainly transcends beyond the boundaries of the basketball court.

With Nikola Jokic having built up with strong Serbian Basketball ethos that firmed laid down by Dejan Milojevic, can he carry the Denver Nuggets and defend their Championship title this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!


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