Remembering a Play: Nikola Jokic Sombor Shuffles the Lakers into the Dustbin of History

Sports Remembering a Play
Remembering a Play: Nikola Jokic Sombor Shuffles the Lakers into the Dustbin of History

Nikola Jokic, the official athlete of Splinter sports, is the greatest basketball player alive and LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers can tell you why. The defending NBA Finals MVP and likely three-time MVP is an offensive wizard, and by the age of 29 he has already etched a place for himself among the all-time greats in NBA history.

I know this is two weeks in a row of my biased Denver sports fandom underwriting our nascent Remembering a Play series, but I have good reasons for both and will now impose a moratorium on using Denver sports in this format for a little while. I had Joe Flacco’s Mile High Miracle ready to go upon our launch, as I wanted to use that dismay to contrast it against the Vince Carter uber-dunk that still makes me cackle and jump out of my seat almost a quarter-century later. Remembering a Play is a celebration of sports and the infinite range of emotions that they make us feel.

The NBA Playoffs begin this weekend, and if you believe there is a more high-profile first-round matchup than the NBA’s marquee franchise and the face of the league traveling to Denver for a Western Conference Finals rematch with the MVP and the defending NBA champions, then you must be smoking that good stuff I’ll be hitting on Saturday night before game one tips off.

Not only is a Nikola Jokic dagger against the Lakers extremely topical on the basketball front, but the series starts in Colorado on 4/20! This is absolutely the spot for a Denver Nuggets-themed Remembering a Play, and besides, who doesn’t want to clown on the Lakers anyway?

I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that this preposterous and patented Sombor Shuffle is still hovering around in the periphery of Anthony Davis’s eye nearly one-year later.


I want to print out a picture of Anthony Davis’s dismayed expression after this incredible shot, melt it down and inject it directly into my veins. If you look closely, you can see Davis’s soul leave his body as Jokic put the exclamation point on a four-game performance which proved that one of the NBA’s best defenders simply cannot defend the NBA’s best player one-on-one. The only thing that Anthony Davis could have done to prevent this greatness from Jokic is by growing another five inches as he went up for the shot.

Nearly all the context you need to know about that cathartic three-pointer which spiritually ended last year’s Western Conference Finals is on the scorebug in the video. My once-tortured Denver Nuggets soul can fill out the rest.

I was born in 1986. In 1985, the Nuggets went to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in franchise history (it was their first time in the NBA’s expanded playoff format that required teams to win two series to get there), and Doug Moe’s exciting high-scoring squad lost to Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers in five games. I was literally born into Laker hatred.

In 2009, the lowly Nuggets went to the Western Conference Finals for just the third time ever, and they lost to Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in six games, aided by two calamitous late-game inbounds passes in one-possession games that I still have nightmares about to this day.

In 2020, after a pandemic that fundamentally changed the world as we knew it, the Denver Nuggets lost to LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the Western Conference Finals and I became convinced that us Denver basketball fans were trapped in some kind of simulation of hell. After Anthony Davis hit a series-swinging buzzer beater in Game 2, I felt deep down in my bones that the Lakers would never let me truly be happy.

When the Nuggets faced the Lakers yet again in the Western Conference Finals last year, I was equal parts excited and nervous given that this was the best chance the Nuggets ever had to exorcise this basketball demon. When Jamal Murray stopped LeBron’s last-second shot to close out the series a few minutes after Jokic’s Sombor dagger, I could feel a lifetime of anguish just wash out of my body. I was finally free of this wretched franchise out west constantly haunting my spring every time a shred of basketball hope arose once every decade or two.

I cannot stress this point enough: the Los Angeles Lakers can go straight to hell. This is a lifetime of war kicking off yet again this weekend, and for once, the Lakers actually hate the Nuggets just as much, if not more, than the Nuggets hate the Lakers.

It’s a real rivalry now. Who’s your daddy LeBron?

I lived through the NHL’s greatest blood feud filled with blood-soaked Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings epics. I grew up idolizing Pedro Martinez and got roped into the intensity of the eternal Yankees and Red Sox conflict. I am currently calling Patrick Mahomes my daddy as he destroys the reputational lead my beloved Broncos built on those jerkoffs in the Midwest doing the tomahawk chop ten-plus Sundays a year. My lifetime of Laker hatred has now dwarfed them all.

Nothing will ever beat the peak of Avs vs. Wings for pure unadulterated sports hate, but as far as consistency goes, there is no team who gets under my skin more than these legacy kid schmucks who stole their name from Minneapolis and get to be the NBA’s shining star simply because they play in the starfucker capital of the world.

Fuck Wilt. Fuck Kareem. Fuck Magic. Fuck Kobe. Fuck Shaq. Fuck AD. Fuck LeBron. Fuck the NBA logo. And fuck the Los Angeles Lakers.

I’m going to wake up tomorrow and immediately watch this hilarious Sombor series-ender and Jokic’s absurd Game 1 Sombor Shuffle over Anthony Davis. I’m going to watch the clip of young Jokic owning LeBron in the post then saying it’s not a big deal because it was a mismatch a thousand times. I’m going to spend the entire day basking in the unfiltered Laker hatred emanating from my soul.

The Lakers not viewing the Nuggets as just a bug on their windshield anymore is a fundamental sea change that has sparked a legitimate rivalry between NBA titans. The Nuggets are the windshield now and the Lakers are fighting not to be the bug. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted as a basketball fan, and it’s all because of Splinter’s official athlete and the whirling dervish of wildly talented players and coaches around him. Happy 4/20 and go Nuggets baby.

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