After a week and a half without playing basketball, the Joker didn’t miss a beat on or off the court.
Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic trolled Shaquille O’Neal after notching his ninth playoff triple-double in Denver’s 104-93 Game 1 win against the Heat in the NBA Finals on Thursday.
During a postgame interview with NBA TV, Hall of Fame guard Grant Hill asked the Serbian center: “Growing up overseas, who were the guys that you wanted to pattern your game after?”
The two-time NBA MVP responded with, “I think it’s Shaq,” before laughing and pointing at the Big Aristotle.
“That means a lot, thank you brother,” Shaq replied, while Hill left out a hardy laugh.
However, Jokic put the kibosh on what appeared to be a nice moment between the two.
“Nah, I’m joking,” Jokic said.
Towards the end of the interview, Shaq gave Jokic his flowers in a rare moment of praise, as the NBA legend is known for critiquing the modern day big men.
“One last thing, I don’t give a lot of props to a lot of big guys, but I give you all the props in the world, brother,” Shaq said.
“Very, very, very, impressive to watch.”
“Thank you, Shaq, that means a lot,” Jokic replied.
Shaq also “officially inducted” Jokic into the unofficial “Big Man Alliance.”
“I give it up to you, big man, great game. And you know what? You are now a member of the Big Man Alliance,” Shaq said while waving his arms.
The 6-foot-11 former second round pick is in the midst of a historic playoff run.
Jokic led the Nuggets to the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance after Denver swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Jokic finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in Denver’s Game 1 win against the Heat.
His triple-double marked his sixth in his last seven games. Additionally, Jokic became the eighth player to have a triple-double in Game 1 of a Finals.
Jokic became the second player in the last 25 years to have 10 assists by halftime of a Finals game, according to ESPN.
LeBron James was the other in 2017.
“The most important thing is to win a game,” Jokic said. “I’m trying to win a game in any possible way.”
Game 2 is set for Sunday in Denver.