A 2018 ESPN segment showing Jusuf Nurkić instead of Nikola Jokić. A 2018 ESPN segment showing Jusuf Nurkić instead of Nikola Jokić. (@fastbreakbreak on Twitter.)

While Serbian forward Nikola Jokić has become a dominant force in the NBA, that hasn’t always been recognized by various media outlets. Jokić won back-to-back MVP awards for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 NBA seasons, and won the NBA Finals MVP award this year after leading his Denver Nuggets to a five-game victory over the Miami Heat to gain their first NBA title. But he hasn’t always received the level of national recognition you’d expect.

The Nuggets’ win Monday had many looking back on how Jokić’s initial draft selection (second round, 41st overall) in 2014 was only shown on screen on the ticker while ESPN ran a Taco Bell quesarito commercial. Beyond that, it also had some looking back at coverage of his 2018 five-year max extension with the Nuggets. That saw ESPN’s SportsCenter With Scott Van Pelt showing highlights of Bosnia’s Jusuf Nurkić (who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers) instead, as seen at top.

Those are quite the moments, especially with the quesarito no longer being a thing. And they feed into the discussion about various levels of national and local NBA media not taking the Nuggets and Jokić seriously. And yes, identification errors happen, and it’s unfortunate for ESPN that this one resurfaced to such an extent Monday and Tuesday. But, paired with Jokić’s surprising reaction after this title, this adds to the ongoing humor here.

[Fastbreak Breakfast on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.