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NBA Champion Lauded for Exceptional Mind

To excel in the National Basketball Association, as in any sports league, a player must be in excellent physical condition. But according to a profile by ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes, what sets NBA champion Nikola Jokic apart from his peers is not his towering physique or his Serbian heritage, but rather, his dizzying intellect.

Ognjen Stojaković, player development coach for Jokic’s Denver Nuggets, says, “You're as fast as you can anticipate. He anticipates situations two and three steps ahead. People don't understand, before the situation happens, he can predict it."

According to tracking firm Second Spectrum, Jokic assisted on 468 layups and dunks--the most of any active NBA player. All-time NBA great LeBron James describes Jokic as mentally exceptional. James said, “He sees plays before they happen. Maybe it's not talked about, because a lot of people don't understand it, but I do. He's special.”

Branislav Vicentic coached Jokic as a teenager in Belgrade, Serbia. He said, “The first time I saw him. I just fell in love.” Despite his substandard conditioning, at first Jokic was unable to complete 10 sit-ups or pushups, Vicentic said that Jokic simply didn’t make any mistakes on the court. Having only coached him for that one year, Vicentic said he’d never seen anyone like Jokic, either before or since.

Vicentic said, “Listen, I don't want to take credit. Some [people] ask me, ‘Hey, you create Nikola Jokic?’ I don't know how to make Nikola Jokic. I was blessed to have him on my team. He's Beethoven. You give him a piano. He makes music.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Don't devalue the gifting and identity with which God has gifted you. Be yourself to the best of your ability, and don't worry about whether it matches the expectations of others.

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