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The NBA is an increasingly global game, and sometimes that means its MVP award is going to be presented in a Serbian horse stable.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named the 2021-22 NBA MVP on Wednesday, his second straight win, after carrying his team to the playoffs despite injuries to multiple All-Stars. Jokic was presented his trophy while with his family in his native Serbia, and they decided to have a little fun with it.
The famously horse-loving Jokic was carted into a horse stable where his family and friends waited to celebrate his win with some "M-V-P" chants (video above).
In the evening, Jokic spoke with TNT's Ernie Johnson about the award, complete with a stationary horse lurking in the background.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 11, 2022
The horse wasn't the only animal on hand, as a dog started audibly gagging off-screen. Yes, this is an odd way to accept an MVP award, but it seems oddly fitting for Jokic.
— Ryan Greene 📷 (@RyanGreeneDNVR) May 11, 2022
Jokic's win wound up being not as close as you'd think given the level of online shouting in the run-up to the award.
He received 65 of 100 first-place votes and 875 total points, with Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid the runner up at 26 first-place votes and 706 points. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the only other player to receive first-place votes with nine.
Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 58.3 percent shooting from the field (33.7 percent from deep). By most comprehensive advanced metrics, including player efficiency rating, win shares, box plus/minus, value over replacement player, FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR and ESPN's real plus/minus, he was the most valuable player in the league.
The back-to-back MVP wins put Jokic in rare company. He is the 13th player to accomplish the feat, joining Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is the first center to do it since Malone in 1983.
That seemed to matter to Jokic, or at least it will in the future.