Meeting a 2x MVP & NBA Champ Nikola Jokic

Jun 1, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Last summer, I had the opportunity to head to Prague for the Men’s EuroBasket group stages where Israel along with five other national teams were playing in order to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament in Berlin.

The overall favorite from the group was by far a stacked Serbian National Team that was led by none other than Nikola Jokic. The Joker along with a number of top level European basketball players including Vasilje Micic, Marko Guduric, Nikola Kalincic and others were tipped as favorites to ease into Germany and then potentially win it all.

The Sports Rabbi & Nikola Jokic

That didn’t end up happening as they fell to Italy in the Round of 16, but that didn’t stop Jokic from being the star of stars that he is back in Prague over the course of the round robin group stage portion of the tournament.

The Serbian basketball staff was very protective of Jokic in and around the arena as thousands of fans packed in to watch the likes of Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Israel and of course the favorite Serbia and in fact, Jokic never once stopped in the mix zone or spoke at a press conference. However, at the team hotel in central Prague it was entirely different story. Along the way his Denver Nuggets teammate Aaron Gordon came to see Jokic strut his stuff in Prague which also brought a ton of smiles to all those around them.

I went to the team hotel to do an interview with the head coach of Finland Lassi Tuovi and before it began I see sitting with family. Teammates and friends a relaxed Jokic playing around with some toddlers. He was as free and as chill as possible. While his brother was there as his gatekeeper, the same brother that is around the Denver Nuggets and Nikola on a regular basis, the Joker took photos and shared a word or two with almost any fan that stopped by. He couldn’t have been more easily accessible and kind with his time and that’s how I snapped the picture with the 2x MVP, NBA Finals MVP and NBA Champ.

In fact, in Israel or abroad in general outside of the United States where the players and athletes are usually inaccessible, you never know who you may bump into and spend a few minutes with.

Just a couple of months ago I was able to meet San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson who was in the Holy Land to watch his son Justin who was playing for Netanya, I bumped into former Los Angeles Lakers Center Andrew Bynum in Milan at the F1 race a number of years back, Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic with the Slovenia National Team in Tel Aviv or hoops announcer Jay Bilas on a trip to Israel.

The Sports Rabbi & Luka Doncic

The list goes on and on from NBA players to MLB stars to NFL Hall of Famers to NHLers as well.

How about bumping into Jean Beliveau and his family at the Kotel back in 1997?

So whenever you do travel keep your eyes out for those sports stars because you never quite know who you may meet!

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