Is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic drowning in Haterade?

Nikola Jokic is a big part of the Nuggets’ late-season problems. Crazy, I know. Hear me out. If Jokic runs away from the MVP discussion, why should teammates give it their all for him? Jokic has not played well since the stupid Kendrick Perkins controversy, going into a shell, with poor passing, carelessness with the ball and general lack of observable interest. It is too bad. The Nuggets have gone stale at the wrong time.

Tim, misses his MVP

Kiz: While he loves basketball, Jokic often seems to feel imprisoned by his celebrity status in the NBA. Is it just me, but does Joker look emotionally weary from all the Haterade poured on him? Either the playoffs will rejuvenate him, or Jokic won’t have the physical and mental strength to do the heavy lifting required to carry Denver to the NBA Finals.

New Broncos coach Sean Payton has already started fixing quarterback Russell Wilson. Let us count the ways. Payton took away Wilson’s private office, threw shade at him after a dinner with Joe Montana, booted his personal quarterback coach from the premises, brought in back-up QB Jarrett Stidham and strengthened the offensive line. I think we will see a different Wilson this season.

Chris, Modesto, Calif.

Kiz: The way I figure it, the more Payton takes off Wilson’s plate, the less likely DangeRuss will be to spill creamed corn all over his fancy shirt.

Long ago, I lived in California and had the privilege of reading Jim Murray in the Los Angeles Times. In my mind, he is on the Mount Rushmore of sportswriters. I’m not sure who else should be there alongside him, but occasionally you wander into his territory, Kiz. The open secret, of course, is that the best sports writing is often not about sports at all, but overcoming obstacles, remembering great moments and the ones who shared them, etc. So thanks for that. I’m sure you’ve had opportunities to go elsewhere, but chose to stay in this dusty old cowtown. I’m always amused by your critics, who seem to believe a local writer should be a cheerleader for the local sports teams.

Dennis, reads between lines

Kiz: Well, I ain’t no Jim Murray. But I am forever grateful to Woody Paige for giving me a shot way back in 1990 to write a sports column. Back then, this was a dusty old cowtown. Yes, Denver has outgrown the term, but I still employ the phrase to gently remind this cosmopolitan city that not everything big and new is better than the old frontier spirit that attracted many of us to Colorado in the first place. OK, kindly forgive my little rant. I will go back outside now and yell at the clouds.

And today’s parting shot sets Rockies skipper Bud Black and me straight on the origin of a pitcher twirling a gem. (Hint: It has nothing to do with a majorette’s baton.)

According to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, twirling was a term first used in 1883, inspired by the fact that as a pitcher winds up, he twirls his arm before delivering the ball.

Susan, baseball sleuth

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