Skip to content

NBA legend believes Nikola Jokic is ‘Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in a seven foot body’ | NBA | Sport

  • by

Nikola Jokic is a combination of Boston Celtics great Larry Bird and Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson in a seven foot body, according to Golden State Warriors legend Chris Mullin. Mullin – who spent the majority of his career with the Warriors – is a huge advocate for the international growth of the sport due to the personalities and style of play dominating the NBA today.

Mullin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 after a glittering career that saw him named an All-Star for five consecutive seasons. He was a core member of Run TMC, named after the initials of the trio of Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway that dominated scoring in the NBA between 1989 and 1991.

Nowadays, Mullin continues to be involved in basketball via broadcasting, and he is pleased to see the explosion in international and European talent when it comes to basketball. Many figures credit the Dream Team and the 1992 Olympics for the explosion in basketball popularity on an international scale – and Mullin was a member of the iconic USA team that stormed to gold.

When asked to pick his favorite international player, Mullin heaped praise on a pair of two-time MVPs in Denver Nuggets big Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as the supremely talented Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Speaking exclusively to Express Sport, Mullin said: “I love [Nikola] Jokic. I love [Luka] Doncic. It’s hard, how can you not like Giannis?

“With Doncic and Jokic, their skill level is just incredible. Jokic just reminds me of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in a seven foot body. He’s a great passer, a triple double almost every night – and Doncic just has incredible individual skill. He’s a big time shot maker, who plays at his own pace.

READ MORE: Kyrie Irving names surprising player better than Steph Curry

“Giannis to me is just a true humble superstar, a great team player with a tremendous work ethic who keeps getting better.

“The international game is a good thing for the NBA, not only because it becomes a global sport, but it has added a dimension to team play and commitment to their teams which they’ve learned in Europe and across the world. They’ve climbed the ladder, put in the time as youngsters to learn the game, the fundamentals and improve their skill level.

“They play a really nice brand of team basketball and it’s translating to the NBA.”

Mullin’s praise for the trio of European stars dominating the NBA is certainly not warranted. Antetokounmpo and Jokic have won the last four MVP awards between them – creating the longest stretch without an American winner in NBA history – while Doncic currently leads the NBA in scoring with 34.0 points per game.

DON’T MISS
LeBron James has given Kevin Durant the ultimate NBA problem
Steph Curry speaks out on LeBron James speculation with touching claim
Brooklyn Nets reach Kyrie Irving trade move after NBA star’s return

While Mullin is undoubtedly in awe of their generational talent, he made a point to recognize their all-round game. Since the 1992 Olympics, believes basketball has evolved towards a more European style of play which is fast-paced and places incredible emphasis on the fundamentals of the game.

“After the Barcelona Olympics, there’s been a huge influence from the European game,” Mullen said. “I think at least a third of the players in the league at the moment are foreign-born and there’s been a huge influence from the European style of play. Obviously, the increase in three point-shooting, spreading the floor, driving to the lane to kick out for threes, pass it up – that was all the way European players played the game, and that is a huge part of the NBA game now .

“It’s exciting. I love the style of play. I’ve always loved European basketball. I’ve always loved playing internationally, so I think it’s fresh and new and keeps the sport evolving.”

Watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Minnesota Timberwolves live on Sky Sports Arena and NBA League Pass on Sunday at 8:30pm UK time as part of the NBA’s ‘NBA Sundays presented by NBA2K23’ Primetime initiative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *