For years, NBA fans have complained that there haven’t been any dominant traditional big men, but in recent years, that has changed.
Joel Embiid, this season’s regular-season MVP, Anthony Davis, and Nikola Jokic have helped counter a league-wide trend toward small ball over the last decade or so while reminding long-time fans of how the game was played a long time ago.
The final affirmation of the fact that the traditional big man isn’t extinct came on Monday when the Denver Nuggets won the NBA championship and Jokic was named the series MVP.
He is perhaps the most dominant big man since Shaquille O’Neal some 20 years ago, and one of the league’s official Twitter accounts reminded everyone of all the damage O’Neal did during the 2002 NBA Finals.
That was the last time a center won the MVP of the championship series.
The last center to win #NBAFinals MVP before Nikola Jokic…
SHAQ in 2002!
2.8 bpg pic.twitter.com/DRsWjdYOgT
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 14, 2023
With O’Neal completely eviscerating the outmatched New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers won in a four-game sweep and took home their third straight world title.
Jokic has just completed one of the greatest and most unique postseasons ever, as he averaged 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists a game while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 46.1 percent from 3-point range in 20 playoff games.
It is way too early to judge him in a historical context, but at age 28, he seems to have an excellent chance of winning at least one more Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Due to the relatively young age of all of the Nuggets’ key players, many expect them to, at a minimum, be title contenders for the next several years, which would greatly elevate Jokic’s final legacy.NEXT: Nikola Jokic Ended Up On Yet Another Historic Playoff List