Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic: Baby Joker is on the way

Put the percussion away, Nikola. The unorthodox drumbeat that governed the most improbable MVP run in NBA history last season will soon be subject to diaper changes and baby rattlers.

Joker and his wife, Natalija, are expecting. Jokic offered scant details on a conference call Wednesday, declining to reveal the gender of Baby Joker. All the reigning MVP would offer was there was still an ongoing debate between mom and dad over the baby’s name.

When asked about his offseason highlights, the Nuggets’ franchise superstar was forthcoming with the news.

“(The offseason) was short,” he quipped. “Probably the highlight is we have a baby coming. That’s probably the highlight of my season, (of) my life. Other than that, it was really short. The second good thing is my horses won 15-to-20 races this year. They’re doing a good job.”

Lest there was any question, Joker’s priorities are intact. The humble superstar who couldn’t wait to get out of the MVP spotlight last season has been back in Denver for a couple weeks, and soon will have one more mouth to feed.

“Whoever I talk to, they say it’s the best thing that ever happened to them,” Jokic said.

The couple’s pregnancy brought them back to Denver earlier than in other seasons, meaning Jokic’s offseason work continued here the past few weeks as opposed to Serbia. Since being back, Jokic has been a mainstay in the weight room, endured conditioning trips to Red Rocks and dominated team pick-up games.

“Nikola was playing with us, and he’s just on another level,” said Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar. “He shouldn’t be playing with us. It was just unfair.”

Unlike last season, when Jokic’s stubborn streak got the best of him and he refused to rest during his MVP campaign, the 26-year-old is already taking a more prudent approach to his health this season. He stressed how much trust he has in the team’s medical staff, suggesting he’d follow their guidance amid the grind of a new season.

“I think (resting is) a smart thing to do, especially, you see last year, how many players got injured,” Jokic said.

That sage – fatherly, perhaps? – approach seemed to shed light on Jokic’s mentality with the start of a new season nearly here. Yet when asked about his attitude, Joker was as coy as the Riddler.

“I don’t want to tell you, brother, where is my head at,” Jokic said before turning into an amusing philosopher. “One step below the sky and one step above the ground, you’re good. Something like that. … Between life and death, brother.”

If Joker’s protecting his mental state as dutifully as his baby’s gender, we’re only left with his teammates to elaborate on where his head is at.

And to a Nugget, the Joker’s still hungry.

Rookie Bones Hyland was incredulous upon seeing Jokic’s quiet work ethic, becoming the first to suggest he’s gunning for a second consecutive MVP.

“You would never know that he won MVP,” Hyland said.

P.J. Dozier, who saw first-hand how Jokic attacked last season, reinforced that nothing’s changed with the generational talent.

“Man, the MVP hasn’t missed a beat,” said Dozier. “ … Shout-out to him for continuing to have that mindset, the MVP mindset. We’re not going to continue to talk too much about it because we already know where his mindset is, too.”

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