DENVER — The identity of the only voter who left Nikola Jokic completely off his NBA MVP ballot has been revealed.
The NBA released ballots Thursday after the All-NBA teams were announced, and they show ESPN analyst Mark Jackson was the voter who left the two-time MVP out of his top five:
- Joel Embiid
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Jayson Tatum
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Donovan Mitchell
During an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio Thursday, the 17-year NBA veteran apologized and said leaving Jokic off of his ballot was a mistake.
"I'm not a guy that does it for clicks to be trending," Jackson said. "Absolute mistake made by me."
Jackson implied that he accidentally submitted his All-NBA selections instead of his MVP selections.
"You can tell, I put one center, two forwards and two guards, so I wasn't even thinking," Jackson explained.
"I apologize to the Denver Nuggets," Jackson continued. "I apologize to Nikola Jokic, who is not only in the MVP discussion and deserved to be on my ballot, but he's one of the greatest players in the history of this game."
"If you want to take away my vote or do whatever, you're more than welcome," Jackson said. "I made a mistake. He deserves, in my opinion, to be clearly... I would've still voted for Joel Embiid MVP, but with Giannis and Joker second and third, they deserved that."
The decision to leave Jokic off the ballot has drawn criticism, including from TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who said the then-unidentified voter was a "damn idiot."
"There's one person, I don't even know this fool's name, that didn't even have Joker in the top five," Barkley said. "People like that shouldn't get a vote."
TNT host Ernie Johnson said during the same conversation that he hoped it was a mistake and not an intentional snub.
"You gotta hope it was some kind of oversight or some kind of tabulation thing, and that guy wouldn't consciously say, 'No, he's not in my top five,'" Johnson said.
Game 6 in the Western Conference Semifinals is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix. Denver leads the series 3-2 over the Suns.
The Nuggets will look to close out the series after winning comfortably in Game 4 after Jokic was fined, but avoided a suspension for a courtside dust-up with Suns owner Matt Ishbia.
While the Nuggets game and the matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics are both airing on ESPN Thursday night, Jackson's crew has the night off.
Dave Pasch and Hubie Brown will call the Nuggets-Suns game, while Mark Jones and Doris Burke will call the 76ers-Celtics game.
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