The Denver Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs last night, after falling 102-98 to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of their first-round series. The game itself was much more fun than any clinching game in a series that started with one team building a 3-0 lead has any right to be. That fun was provided by the Warriors putting Steph Curry back into the starting lineup and letting him go nuts in their deadly three-guard lineup, and also by the continuation of Nikola Jokic’s fierce battle with Draymond Green. Even with the final result feeling relatively fated, the basketball was scintillating and fun to watch.
But we are not here to talk about the game itself. We are here to discuss something much more important, which is Jokic’s commitment to giving each opponent he exchanged pleasantries with after the game a nice, soft caress of the skull.
People often bring up Jokic’s hands when discussing his skills as a basketball player, as it is partly his ability to hold and manipulate the ball with one hand that makes him such a potent rebounder, passer, and finisher around the rim. Well let us now add this to the scouting report: Nikola Jokic’s hands make him an elite hugger. A true triple threat of hugs.
See all the different techniques he’s using in that clip? Green gets the quick clasp-and-release; Curry receives a nice stroke on the top of the head that smoothly transitions into a cradle; Klay Thompson’s noggin is held firm, Hamlet-style, at a bit of a distance, allowing for more prolonged eye contact. We are seeing a multi-dimensional dome-grabber, totally in his element, executing his plays from multiple angles without even stopping to think.
After the game, Green was asked about what he and Jokic discussed during their brief postgame embrace, and he was highly complimentary of the Nuggets big man:
Kind words, but Green’s analysis is a little off here. Jokic is in fact quite soft … when it comes to hugs!