Nikola Jokic’s Serbian hometown of Sombor conmemorate Denver’s first ever NBA title

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As confetti was showering Nikola Jokic right at the end of Game 5 of the championship series, it was almost dawn in Serbia. That didn’t keep the fans of the new Finals MVP from celebrating late into the night and into the morning as Denver won their first ever NBA title. 

The Nuggets big man dropped 28 points and added 16 rebound to his stat line as his team beat the Heat 94 to 98 in Colorado’s Ball Arena, while most people in his hometown of Sombor were still wide awake.

The northern Serbian city, which collides with the borders of both Croatia and Hungary, was the most proud of the athlete’s achievements. They especially erupted when Jokic said postgame that “it’s time to go home.”

Check out the player’s comments after the Finals when he said he wanted to go back to horse racing back in Sombor:

June has been quite the month for the 6 million people who live in Serbia, as they’ve proved to develop not only one of the best basketball players in the world, but also tennis star Novak Djokovic who recently became the first athlete ever to reach 23 Grand Slams.

“It’s just amazing,” Jokic’s father Branislav said in an interview. “I don’t think this great accomplishment can ever be repeated again.”

He is the owner of the stables called the “Dream Catcher” in the outskirts of Sombor, named after the first racehorse that his son ever bought years ago, and the reason why the basketball star has such a strong bond with the sport.

Not too far away from the stables is a basketball court where Jokic first trained close to his school, which nowadays features a mural of him wearing Denver’s jersey and next to it an inscription that reads: “Don’t be Afraid to Fail Big.”

His father admitted that his son “was a bit overweight at one point,” and no one could’ve predicted his success as a young basketball athlete from a small town such as Sombor.

“He had something special within him. I rarely mention it today, but I simply knew that he would be a good basketball player,” he said. “But as to what heights he would reach, nobody could have known then.”

His father Branislav shared that Nikola was split between becoming a basketball player or a horseman

Branislav recalled that back in his son’s youth, he couldn’t decide between his love for horses or the basketball court. Even though he eventually trained to become what he is today, he never forgot about his love for the equestrian sport.

“He started growing, both in height and in size, and he started to become aware that he could be a basketball player, but he had a great desire in those days. He would say, ‘Dad, I want to become a horseman.’ And I used to tell him: ‘Son, become a basketball player first, and you’ll become a great horseman later,’” his father said.

Now, Jokic has become the lowest drafted athlete to ever win the Finals MVP, as he was the 41st overall pick in 2014’s second round. The Serbian star is also only the third second-round pick to conquer this accolade.

“Sport is something that is special in Serbia. We have Novak, who is probably the best ever, Novak is the best ever for us, now we have an NBA champion,” Jokic said not too long ago. “It’s a very good feeling to be a Serb now.”