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Nikola Jokic wins his third NBA MVP award in four years

Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic (middle) has again been voted the NBA's most valuable player.

Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic (middle) has again been voted the NBA's most valuable player. Photo: Getty

Nikola Jokic has done it again, winning the NBA’s most valuable player trophy for the third time in four seasons.

Denver Nuggets’ Serbian superstar was announced as this season’s winner on Wednesday night, becoming the seventh player in league history have accomplished a similar feat.

He averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists.

Others averaged more in each category – and Jokic has had better years in each – but he was the only player to rank in the NBA’s top 10 in points, rebounds and assists per game this season.

Jokic got 79 of a possible 99 first-place votes from the panel of reporters and broadcasters, who cast ballots on awards when the regular season ended.

“It’s got to start with your teammates,” Jokic said on TNT, where the award was announced.

“Without them, I’m nothing. Without them, I cannot do nothing.

“Coaches, players, organisation, medical staff, development coaches … I cannot be whoever I am without them.”

Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was second and Dallas’ Luka Doncic was third, both getting into the top three of MVP voting for the first time.

With Jokic from Serbia, Gilgeous-Alexander from Canada and Doncic from Slovenia, it was the third consecutive season that three players born outside the US finished 1-2-3 in the MVP balloting.

This time, the foreign dominance was even more pronounced.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, was fourth, marking the first time in the award’s 69-year history international players went 1-2-3-4 in the voting.

Jokic is now the ninth player to win the MVP award at least three times: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won it six times, while Bill Russell and Michael Jordan each won five.

Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James won four, with Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson the other three-time winners.

Jokic was the 41st overall pick in the 2014 draft, didn’t think he had a realistic chance at playing in the NBA when his career was beginning and now has a Hall of Fame resume at 29.

The other players with three MVP trophies in a four-year span are James, Johnson, Bird, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain and Russell.

“He’s stated his case pretty well,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said of his teammate.

“It’s hard to do what he does and face the kind of pressure that he does each and every game.

“He does it with a smile on his face and he makes everybody around us better.

“And he’s a leader on the court and somebody that we expect greatness from every time he steps on the court and he’s delivered.”

Gilgeous-Alexander had perhaps the best feel-good story in the NBA this season, helping Oklahoma City to the No.1 seed in the Western Conference by averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists.

Thunder won 57 games, 17 more than it did last season and 33 more than it did two years ago, its rise coinciding with Gilgeous-Alexander’s emergence as one of the game’s elite players.

-AP
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