Mark Jackson was heckled by Denver Nuggets fans because he left Nikola Jokic off his official MVP ballot. And while Jackson downplayed the taunts, there’s some discrepancy over the level of nastiness.
“Mark is being kind to some of those fans. Some of those fans were clowns at the game,” said Jeff Van Gundy, who sat next to Jackson during the heckling as the ESPN analysts both called the Western Conference finals in Denver. “It used to be when you say you made a mistake, it goes away.”
Jackson didn’t include Jokic in his top-5 for MVP voting and later acknowledged it was an oversight. Jokic finished second in the voting to Joel Embiid, a result that looked foolish as the playoffs unfolded.
Jackson and Van Gundy will call Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Denver.
“I’ve had no issues at all and I don’t expect any other than one or two fans during one of the games at the Western Conference Finals,” Jackson said. “And fortunately out of the two men [that were heckling], one of them apologized on the way out. So nothing but class. I understand the quick and slick comments. I’m fine with that.”
The Nuggets and especially their coach, Mike Malone, have adopted an us-against-the-world public approach by pointing out that the team is overlooked by the national media. Van Gundy, no stranger to sending messages through the media when he was a coach, called it meaningless.
“The whole stuff about disrespect is tiring,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve all done it as coaches, and it means nothing.”