Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokić is known more for his eye-popping stat lines and offensive mastery on the court than for fiery speeches. But, as his Denver teammates recall, it was the latter that helped kickstart the team after its disappointing Game 2 defeat in the NBA Finals.
The Heat scored a 111–108 win in Sunday’s Game 2, handing Denver its first home loss of the postseason and evening the series at 1–1. After the game, the Nuggets’ usual vocal leaders—veterans Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green—spoke to the team and stressed the importance of maintaining a consistent effort. The group was surprised when Jokić, who doesn’t typically make any locker room speeches, spoke up to address the room.
“When you hear him talking after a game, you make sure you listen,” Caldwell-Pope said, per Bleacher Report after Wednesday’s 109–94 win in Game 3. “He’s not a real big vocal guy. He shows it more on the court. He leads that way. But he definitely had everyone’s attention, and it worked out for us tonight.”
Of course, it was more than simply Jokić’s speech that helped on Wednesday. The two-time MVP made history with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists, recording the first 30-20-10 triple-double in NBA Finals history. Star point guard Jamal Murray also shined with a triple-double of his own, notching 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Though his stat line had never been seen before on this stage, it’s the type of performance the basketball world has come to expect from the versatile big man. As for his big speech? Well, Jokić couldn’t quite recall how it all went down.
“Honestly, I don’t remember that I was talking. So if I was saying something, I don’t remember what I was saying,” Jokić said. “Maybe it was just my emotions at the time. I don’t remember, to be honest. Maybe they’re just all crazy. But I think I’m normal. When I say something, it’s not that I’m trying to be vocal. There’s a purpose. When I see something, I’m going to say it. I’m never going to talk just to talk.”