The NBA MVP race was one of the most discussed topics during the 2022-23 season. Nikola Jokic was looking to win the award for the third-straight season, and had the numbers to be a favorite.
But perhaps due to voter fatigue, the honors went to 76ers center Joel Embiid, who led the league in scoring and his team to the second-best overall record. Embiid has undeniably excellent numbers, but Jokic was just a few assists away from averaging a triple-double for the season, something almost unheard of for a center.
Mark Jackson Left Jokic Off NBA MVP Ballot
Mark Jackson says he made a mistake by leaving Nikola Jokic off of his MVP ballot
“You can tell I put one center, two forwards, and two guards, so I wasn’t even thinking. I apologize to the Denver Nuggets. I apologize to Nikola Jokić, who is not only in the MVP discussion and… pic.twitter.com/Vwd8NiqMY4
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 12, 2023
So when the voting results came back, there was an obvious omission. When adding up the votes, it became apparent that there was one voter left Jokic out of their top-5 entirely. And while anyone can vote how they please, leaving a player who had such a historically dominant season out of any kind of MVP discussion is almost blasphemous.
There were pundits and critics around the league who called out the then-anonymous voter for their blunder. On Inside The NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley showed his displeasure with the situation, and host Ernie Johnson hoped publicly that it was an honest mistake on someone’s part.
But, the name of the guilty party was revealed earlier in the week.
Made an honest mistake with my MVP votes. My apologies to the Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic. He’s not only a legitimate MVP candidate who deserved my vote, but he is truly one of the all time greats!
Again my apologies
— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) May 11, 2023
Apparently, it was long-time NBA player and commentator Mark Jackson. Instead of including Jokic, his ballot consisted of Embiid, Jayson Tatun, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Donovan Mitchell. But, in line with what Johnson had assumed on TNT, Jackson says that it was an honest mistake.
“One thing I live by, you make a mistake, you own it. I’m not a guy that does it for clicks or to be trending. Absolute mistake made by me. I am thinking, how did I make that mistake? You can tell I put one center, two forwards and two guards, so I wasn’t even thinking.”
While it sounds like a reasonable enough explanation, it still doesn’t justify the glaring mistake. There was so much chatter around the league as the season wore down about who would take home the hardware, and it would have been an impossible topic to avoid for someone as involved in the game as Jackson.
Jackson went on NBA Radio on Thursday and apologized to both Jokic and the Nuggets.