SAN ANTONIO — Every NBA player has their "welcome to the league" moment.
For Denver's Nikola Jokic, one of his earliest NBA memories revolves around playing against his basketball idol: Tim Duncan.
It isn't new to hear Jokic say he molded his game after the San Antonio Spurs legend. He's repeatedly said it time and time again.
However, the former NBA MVP recently revealed that after eight seasons in the NBA, he still remembers facing up against Duncan and getting a lesson in basketball as an 18-year-old rookie.
“I remember when he played against me, he was a little bit older, but he still gave me the easiest 20 points ever in life probably," Jokic said at the 2023 NBA Finals Media Day.
The game Jokic is referring to was on April 8, 2016, at Denver.
Duncan was in his final NBA season but even at 40 years old that didn't stop him from scoring 21 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and handing out two assists in 34 minutes versus Jokic.
"He always had a counter, but he was so patient," he said.
Jokic was just one of many defenders Duncan terrorized during his career on both ends of the court.
He is considered one of the greatest players in the NBA and never got rattled by trash talk or the bright lights of the league.
He'd go on to win five NBA titles and be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
At least Jokic can say he was just one of the many players who couldn't slow Duncan and got a chance to share the court with the player he still holds in high regard.
"[He's] probably he’s one of the best power forward players to play the game. He did with such ease,” said Jokic.
Even Jokic's Nuggets head coach compares him to Duncan for the way he carries himself.
"I often make the comparison, I never coached Tim Duncan, but just from coaching against him and hearing stories about those that have been around him, Tim Duncan was a selfless superstar," Denver's Mike Malone said. "I look at Nikola Jokic in the same vein. I think Nikola Jokic is truly a selfless superstar, where it’s not about him."
Jokic and the Nuggets will try to get their first NBA championship against the Heat starting tonight at Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals.