The most powerful basketball agent in Europe took out his BlackBerry one morning a few years ago and fired off a tweet: A player named Nikola Jokic was withdrawing from the NBA draft that was 10 days away.
This was a bit like declaring that Nikola Jokic would not be leading a mission to the moon the following week. Jokic was a chubby teenager coming off the bench for a team in Serbia. It had only been one year since he started taking basketball seriously, and he would need another year of experience no matter where he was drafted. He didn’t jump high. He didn’t run fast. He didn’t really do much of anything like an NBA player.
So, at 10:45 a.m. on June 16, 2014, his agent was going to pull his name from the draft. Then something peculiar happened. NBA teams started calling—and begging him to reconsider. The reaction to his first tweet was so overwhelming that he sent another tweet at 5 p.m.
“We change direction,” he wrote, “and Nikola Jokic from Mega keeps his name on draft!”
That decision was the beginning of perhaps the single greatest draft selection in basketball history. It would put a guy who was discovered less than a decade ago in the pages of a Serbian newspaper on track to be the next Most Valuable Player of the NBA, and it would turn the Denver Nuggets into the first title contender built around a No. 41 pick.