ESPN’s Mark Jackson revealed as voter who left Nikola Jokic off his MVP ballotMay 11th, 2023
The mystery of the Nikola Jokic MVP snubber has been solved. The culprit: ESPN’s Mark Jackson.
For more than a week, it had been clear one MVP voter had left the Denver Nuggets center off their ballot entirely after the voting totals were revealed. Out of 100 voters, Jokic received 15 first-place votes, 52 second-place votes and 32 third-place votes, which adds up to 99 total appearances.
The snub didn’t cost Jokic a third-straight MVP award — he still finished well short of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and his 73 first-place votes — but it did seem to be a pretty clear attempt to limit his chances at doing so, or at least make an ideological stand against his candidacy. After all, no one voted him for fourth- or fifth-place.
In fact, it was the only ballot that had any of Jokic, Embiid or third-place finisher Giannis Antetokounmpo outside their top 3.
Clarity finally arrived Thursday, when the NBA released the ballots of all 100 voters. Jackson, the former NBA All-Star and head coach of the Golden State Warriors, was the lone media member without Jokic in his top 5.
Here’s how he voted instead.
Mark Jackson’s Nikola Jokic-less NBA MVP ballot
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Jackson was anonymously criticized as soon as NBA fans did the math, and one of the most forceful criticisms came from his broadcasting peer, fellow former NBA player Charles Barkley.
The longtime TNT commentator unloaded on the Jokic snubber during a segment on “Inside the NBA” on Monday:
“There’s something that’s been bothering me. Joel deserved the MVP and Joker and Giannis, they were 1-2-3, however you voted. There’s one person — I don’t even know this fool’s name — didn’t even have Joker in the top 5. People like that shouldn’t get a vote.
“For the last six months, we talked about Joker, Giannis and Embiid. If you have a television, or you actually watch basketball, if you don’t think he should have been in the top 5, you don’t deserve a vote. You could be like some of these fools we be letting vote for president out here … He’s a damn idiot.”
It should be said, if a person a legitimately doesn’t think a player wasn’t one of the most five valuable players in the NBA during a season, they should be within their rights to leave him off their ballot.
However, as Barkley argued, you would have to keep your head in the sand for a long time to conclude Jokic shouldn’t be on an MVP ballot at all. He just averaged nearly a triple-double, with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game, while shooting a career-high 63.2% and leading his team to a 53-29 record.
Jackson should get a chance to explain himself — and knowing his platform, he will — but his best defense at this point might as well be a clerical error.
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