It might be cliched to say, but Nikola Jokic’s MVP show for 2022 looked like it came straight out of an inspirational commercial.
There was a picturesque place – the Jokic horse stables in his hometown of Sombor, Serbia, amazing for their simplicity and characteristic European vibes.
The background soundtrack – traditional and rich, evokes a playful atmosphere with its rhythmic beat.
And of course an interesting central figure – a 6-foot-11 Serbian basketball player unlike any other NBA star due to his brilliance on the court, his seemingly hands-off attitude to the sport and passionate dedication to the beloved racehorse Dream Catcher.
But of course, this next marketing ploy wasn’t out of the box.
It was a real life, a truly human moment that was beautiful, seductive, touching, all at the same time.
Nikola Jokic: From the second-round pick to the most unexpected player
It was also somewhat surprising.
Since the final month of the 2021-2022 regular season, it’s been an open secret that Jokic will win his second MVP award in a row, putting him in a select group of elite Hall of Famers and current greats.
However, while Jokic likely knew he would win, seeing the Nuggets with his family opened his emotional core.
Then Nuggets boss Tim Connelly, coach Mike Malone, assistant coach Oji Stojakovic and strength coach Felipe Eichenberger became like his family as well. And here they are, in his hometown, in his stables.
All of his Nuggets core believed in him and their belief in propelling Jokic into becoming a future Hall of Famer revolutionized the center stage. Fate is made all the more remarkable when you consider his conscious entry into the NBA during the 2014 NBA Draft.
On that auspicious night, there was no custom-made suit for Jokic or a coveted green room invitation. And there certainly wasn’t any handshake with the smiling Adam Silver from center stage.
Instead, there was Taco Bell and Quesarito.
When the Nuggets Jokic drafted #41 overall in the second round of the 2014 draft, his choice was so unimportant to ESPN broadcasts that they chose to use the moment as a commercial break. As Jokic’s name flashed across the bottom of the screen, a commercial for then-new Taco Bell’s Quesarito aired.
Advertising has since become synonymous with Jokic’s career.
Nikola Jokic and the NBA Taco Bell Commercial Draft
During his mercurial ascent, it became an entertaining fact. But now that he’s earned back-to-back MVP awards, the commercial adds a legendary-like quality to his legacy, and serves as a reminder of how far he truly has come.
“I was asleep when they recruited me,” Jokic says. “I didn’t even think of coming. [over]. From playing in Europe and [then coming] Here, I think it’s a nice ride. We hope it never stops.”
It’s funny that the perspective of Anil Raman and Mary Roth in the commercial only adds to the myth of the Gokic-Taco Bell connection.
As the main cast in the commercial, Ruth and Raman were not familiar with the reputation of the NBA until very recently.
I only found out when Ruth was contacted about this story, and I found it surprising and very funny.
Raman also found out that a friend sent him a message about it shortly after Jokic was named MVP in 2021-2022. A casual basketball fan, Raman took a more in-depth look at Jokic and was amazed at his entourage in the Nuggets star story.
“[The commercial] It’s something you don’t really think about,” Raman says. “You shoot your business and it gets turned on. To come back years later and be a part of something so massive… It’s really good to be a part of Jokic’s legacy, if you will.”
Jokic’s journey resonates deeply with Raman. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Raman comes from small town roots like Jokic and is now a working actor in Los Angeles. Which if you think about it, is exactly what Jokic did, except for a much different stage.
“Djokic came from a small town in Serbia and is now in the NBA,” Raman says. “I come from a small island in Trinidad and am now in commercials. This is the land of opportunity.
“Djokic came here, established himself in the NBA and put Serbia on the map. Not that I’m doing anything huge for Trinidad, but the people there know about my representation and on a micro level, I’m putting my country on the map.”
Raman’s pride for Trinidad and how he perceives his relationship to Jokic is a fascinating analogy to painting. It tells the story of an immigrant like the popularity of coming to America with nothing and then unleashing your full potential thanks to the opportunities the country offers.
That’s exactly what Jokic did.
He is a hero immigrant to Raman because of what he has accomplished. Surprisingly enough, the hero’s movie-like origin story all started because of Taco Bell.
It’s fitting for a sequel, something that Raman is definitely a fan of and it looks like Jokic is totally up for it.
“I hope,” Jokic jokes. “I’ll get a percentage of Taco Bell.”
Despite repeated attempts, Taco Bell did not respond to comment for this story.