The race for this year’s NBA MVP was easily one of the more contentious in recent memory thanks in no small part to the miniature controversy Kendrick Perkins was able to generate when he insinuated racial bias played a role in Nikola Jokić being positioned as the frontrunner after winning the award in back-to-back years.
Plenty of people (including JJ Redick and Charles Barkley) took exception to those comments, but it’s pretty hard to deny they had a sizeable impact on the narrative and likely played a minor role in Joel Embiid eventually emerging as the odds-on favorite to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
When everything was said and done, the 76ers big man walked away with a trophy he definitely earned following a monster season, and it seemed like we might finally be able to put all of this year’s NBA MVP-related drama behind us.
However, things took an interesting turn on Thursday when we got a look at the ballots that were submitted by the 100 voters who determined who is unofficially crowned the best player in the league, as Mark Jackson caught a fair amount of heat for excluding Jokić from the list of the five players he submitted.
The man who currently covers the NBA for ESPN was the only person who omitted Jokić entirely—a snub that was magnified by the fact that the Nuggets star didn’t receive a vote lower than third on any of the other 99 ballots that were sent in.
It didn’t take long for Jackson to acknowledge what he described as a “mistake,” as he admitted he messed up after discussing the matter with NBA Today.
And here’s Mark Jackson on with @Jumpshot8 & @TermineRadio apologizing for his MVP ballot mistake pic.twitter.com/g9DEZRx3sA
— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) May 11, 2023
Here’s what he had to say:
“One thing I live by: you make a mistake, you own it. I’m not a guy who does it for clicks or to be trending. Absolute mistake made by me.
You can tell I’m probably 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.
I apologize to the Denver Nuggets, I apologize to Nikola Jokić—who is not only in the MVP discussion and deserved to be on my ballot but is one of the greatest players in the history of this game; he’s a top 10 center of all time—so I own it.
If you want to take away my vote, more than welcome.”
It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest Jackson could lose his right to vote for MVP in the future, as the results can have a major impact on the contracts players are eligible for.
The fact that Jokić was already in contention for the supermax he signed in 2022 makes the omission slightly less problematic in practice, but as Jackson stressed, it was not the best look.