Michael Malone thinks ‘ugly, nasty’ MVP debate has turned Nikola Jokic off

Jason Simpson
4 Min Read
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA MVP race has been full of twists and turns, and with just a few weeks left in the regular season, it seems like the field can realistically be reduced to superstars Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Any of those three players could conceivably do enough over the remainder of the regular season to win the award. However, it seems like at least one candidate is getting tired of the entire discussion.

According to Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, the toxicity of this year’s MVP debate has turned Jokic off.


“I think this year unfortunately has just taken a really ugly, nasty turn in the MVP conversation, and I think it’s really turned a lot of people off, including him,” Malone said of Jokic. “And what’s happening now is there’s so many guys that could win the MVP this year — great candidates. Joel Embiid is a great candidate. Luka Doncic is a great candidate. Jayson Tatum — whoever you want to put in that mix, those are all deserving. But what happens in today’s society is that everybody — it’s like when I was a college coach — all the negative recruiting, it’s not promoting my guy, it’s ripping down every other guy. And that’s just ridiculous.


“This game — as Adam Silver told us at the All-Star break — the game is in a great spot. The league’s in a great spot. We have great players. Celebrate them. Don’t criticize. Don’t tear them down. Build them all up, and whoever wins it, good for them. And that’s one thing that’s been really disappointing this year with the whole MVP conversation and all the hot takes. It’s really just gotten ugly and nasty, and I really don’t care for it.”

Malone brings up some important points. The current era of NBA discourse can be toxic at times, especially when fans have strong opinions or takes that they want others to believe.

If Jokic were to win this season’s MVP award, he’d make history by becoming just the fourth player ever to win it three years in a row. It would be a remarkable accomplishment, but based on Malone’s comments, the 28-year-old superstar probably wouldn’t mind if he didn’t hear another word about the award.

Jokic is averaging 24.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game this season while shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. He’s flirting with averaging a triple-double for the first time in his career, which would be another impressive box for him to check.

Embiid and Antetokounmpo — the other two major threats to be named MVP this year — would be notable winners for their own reasons. Embiid is looking to win his first MVP award after coming close multiple times. Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, is trying to win his third overall.

Hopefully, the culture surrounding MVP debates in the NBA will improve in the coming years. After all, the award is meant to celebrate greatness, not create situations where fans look to diminish the talent and accomplishments of the league’s top players.

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