Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic isn't putting too much stock into his 2020-21 MVP win, but he told reporters he was surprised to win the award on Tuesday.
"I never thought I would be on the list," he said. "It's a surprise."
Jokic earned 91 of 101 available first-place votes and blew away the second-place player, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, who earned one first-place vote and 62 second-place votes.
Other first place vote-getters included Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose, the latter of whom won the fan vote, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Winning the NBA's MVP award wasn't even on his mind when he was working toward a professional basketball career. The Serbia native said on TNT's Inside the NBA that he just wanted to make it in the EuroLeague (h/t Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
He credited his teammates with helping him earn the honor, but Jokic had quite the impressive resume. He was one of 11 players to appear in all 72 regular-season games this season, finishing with 26.4 points and 8.3 assists, both career highs. His 10.8 rebounds tied a career best.
It's not bad at all for someone who was drafted in the second round at No. 41 overall—a selection that didn't exactly catch the attention of anyone back when it happened in 2014.
But Jokic immediately made an impact, earning an All-Rookie nod in his first season, then grabbing three consecutive All-Star nods from 2018-21. The 26-year-old, who became the first center to win the award since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000, is now eligible for a supermax contract extension with the Nuggets next offseason.
First, he's turning his attention to a title. The Nuggets are looking to earn their first win in the Western Conference Semifinals in Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET.