The first guy to take a chance on Nikola Jokić is his Serbian superagent Miško Ražnatović. Jokić put up some huge numbers for Vojvodina from Novi Sad, and Ražnatović sent a scout to observe him, but the first scouting report on Jokić didn’t look too good. The 18-year old was overweight. However, Ražnatović took a chance and transferred the youngster to Mega, a team that he owns. The Adriatic league powerhouse was already known for developing young prospects. Here’s Ražnatović talking about it with Toni Horvat from Index.hr.
“He wasn’t as fat as on those photos, but he did have a surplus of kilograms, and he was significantly physically weaker from everyone else on the team. Mega’s S&C trainer immediately took him out of the team’s training regime to get his body in the condition of being able to train with the rest of the team. He told him that he would get injured in three days if he starts with the full training regime.”Miško Ražnatović, Index.hr
When he began practicing with Mega, Jokić was known to have an enormous problem with his unquenchable eating habits. Every here and there, he would guttle the famous local dish burek and half a gallon of Coke. His agent, Mega head coach Dejan Milojević, and his older brother Strahinja, finally persuaded Joker to change his eating habits. It was the process that got him into much better shape, and eventually opened him the path to the NBA.
Jokić has actually been an ironman for Denver. His NBA injury history lists a sore ankle in 2017, rest in 2018, and an ankle injury in 2020 – none of them sidelined the Serbian superstar for a long stretch of time. His worst injury is actually quite bizarre.
“He was very popular among the children, so he once signed so many autographs that the tendon on his arm became inflamed, which is why he missed a week of training and a couple of games.”Miško Ražnatović, Index.hr
Despite all the faith and recognition of his talent, Ražnatović never expected for Nikola to turn into the player that he is today. European basketball is less athletic than the NBA, but athleticism still plays a role. Ražnatović knew Nikola’s success was predicated on landing in an environment that looks beyond his physique and will recognize his talent.
“Of course, since then, I couldn’t even imagine that he would have a career like this. To be honest, I was satisfied when he was 41st pick of the NBA draft. That was an exceptional result, but also the indicator that those numbers don’t mean to much. He was lucky that he came to the right place, which gave him the chance to prosper and show what he knows. Each season he is getting better, and I think that he will continue to make progress.”Miško Ražnatović, Index.hr
While bringing the Nuggets on the verge of its first-ever finals ever, this 25-year All-Star from Sombor, Serbia, is by many considered the best passing big man ever to play the game. His success has set a shining example to follow for many kids across the world who want to make it to the NBA someday.