Author: Kurt Streeter
Publish date: 2023-05-22 00:20:03
What about …
Slow? Well, now we are on to something. Here we find his special sauce.
It is the speed with which he plays, or, rather, the lack of it, that sets him apart in the fast-twitch N.B.A. Jokic, the two-time league most valuable player, could write an instructional book about the game he has come to master: Basketball and the Fine Art of Slowness.
This particular faculty is not entirely about sprinting pace. Jokic can move fairly quickly in spurts. It is just as much qualitative. When he is on the court, no matter the circumstance, he seems to control time. He moves where he wants, when he wants, while every other player is slicing around the court in a frenzy.
On Saturday night, as the Nuggets and Lakers starters gathered on the court at Crypto.com Arena before tipoff in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, it seemed like every other player was jumping up and down or fiddling nervously with their uniform or hunting for someone to high-five.
Jokic just stood at center court, focused, waiting. It brought to mind something Jeff Van Gundy, the former N.B.A. head coach who is now a television analyst for ESPN, told me before the game, describing the towering Serb. “He looks completely unruffled. Jokic is the epitome of the John Wooden quote, ‘Be quick, don’t hurry.’”
“He’s an absolute marvel,” Van Gundy added.
Wait, this guy, a marvel? Jokic is muscular but hardly ripped. He stands nearly 7 feet, weighs almost as much as a subzero refrigerator, and has arms that might as well be pterodactyl wings. He is 28, still in the middle of the prime years for physical prowess, but he might trip while trying to jump over the Sunday paper.