Two of the best NBA players, Nikola Jokic and LeBron James, will square off tonight as the Nuggets host the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Denver’s head coach Michael Malone, who has worked with both of them, sees many similarities between Jokic and James.
“I feel really blessed to have coached both those guys,” Malone began. “LeBron as an assistant coach for five years when I was in Cleveland and now eight years with Nikola. You guys around here have heard me say often that I see many similarities take away the athleticism, which is a striking difference.
“But their IQ, their feel for the game, seeing things before they happen. But their ability to make everyone around them better and just their personalities. Just very, very similar players. It’s funny because it shows you there’s a lot of different ways to be great.
“You can be one of the greatest players of all tike like LeBron, a tremendous athlete, or you can be not maybe a great athlete like Nikola, but still have the IQ, still have the ability to make everyone around you better. Both of those guys take the greatest joy in making a play for somebody else and that’s something that I’ve always admired about LeBron and Nikola.
“And the last thing I’ll say is their work ethic. LeBron never got enough credit for his work ethic because everybody thought it came easy for him because he was such a freak coming out of high school. But his work ethic is second to none.
“And being around Nikola for eight years and seeing him and his approach and how he’s matured and what he does every day that is what it allows both those guys to be as consistent as they are.”