When the media overlooks Nikola Jokić, head coach Michael Malone is sure to remind everyone about the Denver Nuggets superstar.
Jokić gave a historic performance Tuesday night, leading Denver to a Game 1 win against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. While Jokić was praised for his performance, the Lakers garnered even more media attention for nearly pulling off a dramatic comeback, even though they ultimately lost. And according to Nuggets coach Michael Malone, Denver noticed the contrast in coverage.
Nuggets HC Michael Malone:
“You win Game 1 of the Playoffs, & all everybody talked about was the Lakers. Let’s be honest. That was the national narrative… No one talked Nikola (Jokić) just had a historic performance… The narrative was about the Lakers & their adjustments.” pic.twitter.com/jwofNjXC5q
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 19, 2023
“I think a lot of our guys, to be honest, they may not admit this or not. You win Game 1 of the playoffs and all everybody talked about was the Lakers,” Malone said during his postgame press conference. “Let’s be honest. That was the national narrative, ‘Hey, the Lakers are fine. They’re down 1-0, but they figured something out.’ No one talked Nikola just had a historic performance. The narrative wasn’t about the Nuggets, the narrative wasn’t about Nikola. The narrative was about the Lakers and their adjustments. So you put that in your pipe, you smoke it, and you come back and you know what? We’re gonna go up 2-0.”
This wasn’t the first time Malone blasted the media for snubbing Jokić. After Kendrick Perkins helped shift the NBA MVP discussion from Jokić to Joel Embiid in March, Malone ripped the media for ruining the debate with hot takes.
The Lakers definitely were given an odd amount of props for a team that lost Tuesday night. But in the media’s defense, the Lakers shut Jokić out in the fourth quarter and stormed back from a 20-point deficit in the second half, on the road. It was a statement loss,N if there is such a thing. But according to Malone, the love for Los Angeles gave Denver some fuel for their pipe and their Game 2 win Thursday night, which happened behind another triple-double from Jokić.