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Nikola Jokić marks sixth consecutive international NBA MVP | Sporting News

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The last six seasons in the NBA have seen a player born outside of the United States win the Most Valuable Player award, showcasing the international growth in the league.

The streak was extended on Wednesday when Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić was named the MVP for the third time in four seasons.

There was much debate over who would be crowned the MVP between Jokić, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Luka Dončić, but regardless, the trend would have continued as all three are international players.

“It’s got to start with the teammates; without them, I cannot do nothing,” Jokic said on TNT after being named MVP. “Coaches, players, organization, medical staff, strength coaches, development coaches. It is all one big circle. But I cannot be whatever I am without them.”

The trend began in 2019 when Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award. The Greek superstar followed it up with another stellar campaign, earning his second consecutive MVP award in 2020. The following two seasons marked wins for Jokić (Serbian), but a potential three-peat was ruined thanks to an impressive year from Cameroonian center Joel Embiid.

The fact that foreign players have dominated the end-of-season awards in recent years is a testament to the NBA’s globalization efforts in recent decades. Entering this season, there were 125 international players from 40 countries and territories on opening-night rosters — the most in NBA history.

In the 2024 Paris Olympics, Team USA will face tough competition, but they are expected to thrive with a roster full of talent including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Embiid.

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