DENVER — Standing at almost seven feet tall, Nikola Jokić is hard to miss. Fans who meet the basketball superstar — with two NBA MVP awards to his name — remember his personality above all else.
As the Nuggets prepare to face the Miami Heat for their first appearance in the NBA finals, Nuggets Nation took to social media to tell their stories about meeting "The Joker" after one fan asked everyone to share.
Anyone in #Denver had a Nikola Jokic encounter?— Ben (@BenMcKee) May 28, 2023
Mine was when I saw him at a Walgreens, grabbing diapers for his newborn. He had a huge list of things he needed, and was asking the pharmacists for help.
One of those "he's just like us" moments I'll never forget.
Stories include one fan watching Jokić purchase his own jersey, playing skee-ball with him and spotting him at restaurants. The thread began with the author, Ben McKee's, own story.
“At Walgreens, I was actually waiting with my wife as she was getting a COVID vaccine in early 2021. And I'm looking around, and I'm like, 'There is a tall man over there who looks really lost,'" McKee laughed.
McKee soon realized who he was looking at inside of Walgreens.
“Oh my goodness, that's the MVP. That's Nikola Jokić... in every sense, the approachable superstar,” McKee remembered. “I realized, 'Oh, he has a newborn at home. He's looking for diapers, he's looking for wipes, he's looking for baby powder, and he has no idea where any of this stuff is.' Just like me, I wouldn't know where none of that stuff is... Kind of that tongue-in-cheek thing, realizing that, of course, he's just like us. He's just a person, but he's really tall and really good at basketball.”
KC Kinney commented on McKee's post, saying he met Jokić at Ace, Eat, Serve, a restaurant that has ping pong.
“Got to play a little ping pong against Jokić," Kinney said. “It was a moment that I'll never forget, and he's as good at ping pong as he is basketball, that much I can say for sure.”
Kinney lost the game, but meeting Jokić was everything he wanted it to be.
“The man is a hero. He's my age, but a role model," Jokić said. "He is himself, 100% authentic... On camera, off camera, the same person.”
Another comment was from Heidi Majerik, whose son, Gabriel Seyboldt, was in a trick shot competition that Jokić and Jamal Murray judged. Her son got second place.
“Just as playful as he is on cameras, he doesn't change at all. And he's just being him, and I think it's rare," said Seyboldt.
Majerik described Jokić as very down to earth, kind and generous.
"Both he and Jamal, you can imagine, they're still in season, and they have to come do this thing with the fans, you know. Like, it's work, but they were generous of spirit, and you can tell that they were honestly happy to come interact with fans," Majerik said.
Meanwhile, cousins Dustin DiPentino and Anthony Amato spotted Jokić at a restaurant.
“It was a random day at around five o'clock in the afternoon. We were having happy hour beers," Amato said. “[Jokić] was extremely tall. I think I came up to about his shoulder. So, I felt like a little kid.”
The cousins did not want to bother Jokić, but did want to get a quick picture. In addition to the picture, Jokić chatted with the two men.
“He was very gracious. He spent a lot of time just kind of talking the game and you know, had nothing but good things to say," said DiPentino.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Thursday at Ball Arena. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. You can watch Game 1 and the entire NBA Finals on Denver7.