As Nikola Jokic reached the heights, fans began to delve deeper into his past life, hence, learning that the two-time NBA MVP used to be an overweight kid. Through incredible willpower and discipline, Jokic managed to lose all that excess weight. But of course, the Denver Nuggets knew they had to maximize all the All-Star-level of potential in “Joker” so they had him work alongside the team’s head strength-and-conditioning coach, Felipe Eichenberger.
The Jokic whisperer
Branded by The Denver Post as “The Jokic whisperer,” Eichenberger has been working with the Serbian NBA star since 2015. As expected, the Nuggets wanted Jokic to be fitter but not to the point where he would jeopardize his health and body. Eichenberger was well aware of that, but he told Jokic that improving his health is beyond basketball. It’s more of a “personal” thing.
“This is a guy that’s coming to the NBA,” Eichenberger told The Denver Post. “He can’t do this. It’s scary, right? But then I explained to him, ‘This is personal. Here’s what you need to do. Let’s work on it.’ And he was all about it.”
Fortunately for Eichenberger, Jokic felt the same way about it. More importantly, he was determined to improve not only his form but also his life.
“He’s the kind of guy if he tells you, ‘I’m gonna do something,’ and he looks in your eyes like, ‘I’m gonna do this,’ he will,” Eichenberger said of Jokic.
Jokic was all in on Eichenberger, and he trusted him like family. In fact, “Joker” even let Eichenberger choose what he should and shouldn’t eat, and they never had a problem with it.
“I don’t want to eat bad just because I know it’s not just me,” Jokic explained. “It’s him [Eichenberger], too. I don’t want to disappoint him.”
“He’s my family,” he added. “I’m really honest with him. He understands me. He knows when I’m lying. It’s funny. … We’re not hiding nothing from each other…He gives 100% of himself to help me…that’s why I think I will never be able to thank him (enough).”
Making an MVP
After several seasons, the Nuggets broadened Jokic’s role. Eichenberger realized that they needed to intensify Jokic’s routine to enable his body to perform the more taxing tasks, so he injected some shoulder and bicep workouts into the program. The twist? Eichenberger wanted Jokic to lift every after game.
“It’s not like you’re a point guard or a fifth guy,” Eichenberger pointed out. “You’re gonna be fighting underneath the basket every single day, you need this. And the only way to do this … is if we work out after the game, we can load you more and you can get a lot more done than just lifting the day after.”
As expected, Eichenberger did not have any problem implementing it on Jokic. In fact, “there are now a handful of Nuggets players who lift after games” since then. Kudos Eichenberger!
For sure, Eichenberger and Jokic are now prepping up for the new season. Can the pair work together for another MVP year for "Joker?" Let's wait and see.