Shaq Tells Nikola Jokic He Doesn't Believe Nuggets Star Deserved to Win Third MVP

The Hall of Fame center said it right to Nikola Jokic's face.

For weeks now, Shaquille O'Neal has publicly backed Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to win the 2024-25 NBA MVP award.

So O'Neal wasn't thrilled Wednesday night when the NBA named Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić the league's Most Valuable Player for the third time in his career. And he let Jokic know it, right to his face.

"You know I love you, the best player in the league. I want to congratulate you," O'Neal said to Jokić during the TNT pregame show. "But I want you to hear it from me first. I thought that SGA should've been the MVP. That's no disrespect to you, but congratulations."

Jokić seemed to handle the feedback well.

"Thank you Shaq. We don't judge people here, so that's fine, it's your opinion," Jokić said with a smile. "I'm joking. ... There are a lot of players that deserve [to win MVP]."

Jokić, who also won the MVP award in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns, received 79 first-place votes and 926 points in the final voting tally. Gilgeous-Alexander finished in second place, landing 15 first-place votes and 640 points.

Jokić and the Nuggets are back in action Friday for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets trail the Wolves 2–0 in that series.

Tom Dierberger


Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.