JOKIC IS THE JOKER, JUST NOT THAT ONE

Because his name begins with “Jok,” Serbian basketball superstar Nikola Jokic has been christened “The Joker” by American announcers. This nickname fucking sucks. “The Joker” is the main Batman villain (Batman is a man who dresses up like a bat to solve crime in many popular comic books), a clown man who thinks crime is funny. Various writers, artists, and actors have taken it on themselves to suffuse this goofy-ass idea with a truly absurd quantity of psychological and political pathos, making him into an anti-social bogeyman, the manifestation of a moron’s idea of postmodernism. The Evil Foucault You Gotta Respect.

Jokic is none of these things. The Joker is amphetamine wiry and gaunt: Jokic is a full faced, gentle presence. The Joker thinks everything is a bad joke, Jokic is notably sincere and gently funny. The Joker thrives on CHAOS and MADNESS, while Jokic’s game is notable for bringing simple order, clean lines and gentle wrist flicks, to the madness of sport. The Joker is an egomaniac, Jokic’s game is premised on sharing and cooperation. 

It simply doesn’t fit! Alternatives like“Big Honey” have been proposed, but the ease with which Mark Davis can belch out THE JOKER after a dunk is just too powerful a temptation. The name is similar to the word. You can’t get over this. 

And so, a suggestion. Instead of trying to paddle upstream, employ some new christening on  the best center in the league that simply will never take, I have decided that we just need to reframe the idea of WHICH “Joker” Jokic is supposed to represent. And so, please, take a second to void your mind of the mean clown, set with an empty brain, and accept The Joker that Jokic ACTUALLY IS into your heart: 

That’s right, folks: Nikola Jokic is THE JOKER, but not the evil one, BUT THE PROTAGONIST AND NARRATOR OF THE STEVE MILLER BAND’S NUMBER ONE HIT, “THE JOKER.” This Joker has nothing in common with the evil Joker. Instead, he is a cool, laid-back dude. A man who loves living in a society, who thinks JOKES are funny. This is the kind of Joker you can get along with, folks! He is operating from the high post and distributing, maxing, and relaxing. 

Here is a list of properties that The Joker and other people attribute to him over the course of the song. I think you will agree that Jokic possesses nearly all of them.

“THE SPACE COWBOY.”

We’re talking about a guy in a big hat, roping cattle and shooing off rustlers among the stars. A space cowboy is a faintly absurd, big ol’ ten-gallon space helmet, eating freeze-dried beans in the ultimate open range, the Milky Way Galaxy. but still pretty fucking cool concept. Nikola is a deep second round pick who has a big open face and the kind of body type that drives body-fascist Pat Riley types fucking crazy and dominates the game with passing and space manipulation. Nothing about him should work as well as it does, but it doesn’t matter AT ALL, he succeeds not IN SPITE of his goofiness, but BECAUSE OF IT, not unlike our friend, the goofy space cowboy. 

“THE GANGSTER OF LOVE”

I think it’s safe to say that Jokic’s generous game is suffused with love, and that he unleashes that love in a lethal manner, as a gangster would. He’ll throw a sweet no-look pass, but if he needs to, he’ll also throw an elbow.

“MAURICE (WAH WAH)”

I have occasionally wondered if “Maurice” is just this guy’s name. Like if I was singing the Joker about myself–  I wouldn’t, I possess none of these stated qualities– would I sing “Some people call me CORBIN (wah wah.)”? It is safe to say that Jokic is not named Maurice, he is named Nikola. But ignoring that inconvenient fact, I think that if we presume that The Joker is not ACTUALLY named Maurice, that it’s stand in for “Name of a cool dude who likes to chill”, well, buddy, that’s Jokic to a T. 

But even if you don’t accept “Maurice,” I think it’s safe to say that the song’s little guitar WAH WAH is a pretty definitive evocation of the spirit of Jokic. Take this pass, for instance:

Look, if you’re not affixing “WAH WAH” to the top of that bad boy in your head right now, I don’t know if I think you even have a spirit. 

“I SPEAK OF THE POMPATUS OF LOVE” 

In researching this I discovered that Steve Miller came up with the word “Pompatus” as a kind of evocation of a feeling. I think we can all agree that Jokic manifests this unnamable feeling. Relaxed. Smooth. A lil’ hedonistic. Loving. Pompatus. Jokic.

“PEOPLE TALK ABOUT ME BABY/SAY I’M DOING YOU WRONG”

People do talk about Jokic. He is a famous basketball player. Some people, jerks, have suggested that his lack of conditioning they can see is an affront to basketball. They’re all wrong assholes, of course, much like the shitty gossips giving the business to The Joker.

“A PICKER”

1.1 Steals a game this year, notably high for a center. Deadly in the pick-and-pop. Body seemingly lab-designed for locking up Jamal Murray’s post-game embraces also delivers punishing screens that free up Murray for jumpers. Seems like a guy who might enjoy some seasonal apple picking. A multiplely manifested picker.

“A GRINNER” 

“A LOVER”

Jokic does have a girlfriend, and he dished out this elite hug after the Nuggets won last night.

“A SINNER”

We’re all sinners in the eyes of THE LORD.

“I PLAY MY MUSIC IN THE SUN”

Look he may not literally play music in the sun, but he does dance topless or possibly naked to Serbian folk music outdoors. He’s not self-conscious about rocking out or his giant body, much like a busker in the town square only cares about the music. Same attitude. Feels like Steve Miller would approve of this!

“A JOKER”

He does give amusing post game interviews, though I will concede that they’re mostly funny for his weird sincerity more than traditional setups and punchlines

He’s a Joker, folks.

“A SMOKER/A MIDNIGHT TOKER”

I honestly have no idea one way or the other. But I will say this: if I saw Jokic at the grocery store, shopping basket around his arm, all decked out in warmups, lookin’ at cereal or what have you, I would make certain assumptions about his relationship to midnight toking. And, hey, lives in Denver, where it’s legal as hell.

“I SURE DON’T WANT TO HURT NO ONE”

Jokic always ends the game with giant scratch marks up and down his arms and he never retaliates. Honestly man this is as angry as he’s gotten on court and… 

…it’s just not that angry. 

“I GET MY LOVING ON THE RUN”

As an NBA Player, he certainly COULD get his loving on the run, town to town, etc. And even if we assume that he isn’t spreading his extraordinarily valuable seed across America, I think it’s safe to say that his general attitude towards a relaxed, casual basketball pleasure still evokes the STATE of one who gets their loving on the run, as the Joker does. 

MYRIAD WAH WAH GUITAR PEDALINGS

The most wah-wah player in the league, bar none. Who’s even second? Carmelo? Not relaxed enough! Klay Thompson? Maybe off the court, but he’s just a big ol’ robot when he gets the ball in his paws. Wilt? Too tragic! Jokic in a walk. 

“I REALLY LOVE YOUR PEACHES/WANT TO SHAKE YOUR TREE”

I think it’s safe to say this is a guy who would associate the act of lovemaking with the consumption of a delicious, in-season peach. 

“I SURE SHOW YOU A GOOD TIME”

He certainly shows ME a good time. Very entertaining!

There it is, folks. Jokic is The Joker, but not the mean one. He is instead the nice, horny one. 

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