Nikola Jokić makes it back in time for horse racing after NBA Finals celebrations

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Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic watches a harness race at the hippodrome in the northern Serbian town of Sombor, Sunday, June 18, 2023. Jokic came to Serbia after the Denver Nuggets won the NBA Championship with a victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Nikola Jokić traveled to his hometown in Serbia for a horse race on Sunday. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokić made it back to Serbia for Sunday horse racing.

The Denver Nuggets center arrived at the hippodrome in his northern Serbian hometown of Sombor to watch a harness race, according to the Associated Press.

This seemed to be the 28-year-old’s primary concern, after scoring 28 points as the Nuggets won the NBA Championship with a Game 5 victory over the Miami Heat.

“I don’t know how I’m going to arrive. Thursday, late. Friday, maybe,” he said. “I’m going to ask [Nuggets President] Josh [Kroenke] to give me a plane,” he said after repeatedly mentioning getting home to his horses postgame.

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It’s unclear whether he got the Kroenke’s plane or managed the travel on his own, but he made the 6,000-mile journey somehow.

This comes after Jokić, who was initially devastated to learn he was expected to stay in the U.S. for a parade, told fans he “wanted to stay on parade” at the festivities on Thursday.

He was even seen partying in Vegas Friday night, apparently going so hard that Nuggets forward Bruce Brown blamed him for his hangover.

“I want everyone to know, this is Nikola Jokić’s fault, that i’m down this bad. I don’t know what he had me drinking last night, but I blame it on #15,” Brown said on Instagram Live.

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The partying was a heel turn after Jokić appeared less than pleased to pop champagne immediately after the victory. We can only hope it’s the first iteration of the humble star embracing the spotlight after validating his status among NBA greats.

No matter how much Jokić acclimates to stardom, his love for horses isn’t expected to change.

“I just enjoy being around them and seeing their different characteristics,” he told The Athletic in 2020. “You get to see when they work out that they are basically like us. They are athletes, sprinters. They are magnificent creatures.”

At the time, he had a race horse named Dream Catcher. During the Finals, ESPN’s Malika Andrews asked if he was planning to buy another. “Probably, even if I lose,” he said.

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If he hasn’t already added to his stable, he likely will soon.



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