Basketball: Jokic out of quarantine, watches Nuggets practise

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (REUTERS) – Nikola Jokic, returning from a positive coronavirus test, completed his quarantine period on Tuesday (July 14) and watched his Denver Nuggets teammates practise at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando.

Jokic tested positive for Covid-19 while in his native Serbia last month. He travelled to central Florida separately from his teammates, arriving on Saturday, then was quarantined while waiting to pass two coronavirus tests in a 48-hour period.

Speaking with reporters on a video conference call on Tuesday night, Jokic said the positive test surprised him because he was asymptomatic.

“It was kind of weird. I was feeling good and feeling normal,” he said.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Tuesday: “Nikola is a big part of what we’re trying to do. Having him here finally is great. He and I have a tremendous relationship. It was wonderful to see him walk through those doors.”

Jokic also addressed the hot topic of his physique. A widely circulated photo of him during the National Basketball Association’s hiatus showed him looking far leaner than his listed 128.8kg playing weight.

He said he had lost 9kg-11kg during the season before play halted, then lost an additional 1.3kg to 2.3kg.

“About the pictures, I see how people don’t see the (long-term) changes,”Jokic said. “I didn’t lose that much pounds in the quarantine and corona. …

“I’m just happy to be here and finally come to Orlando to be with the team. Maybe I’ll surprise everybody. You will see.”

Malone has maintained all along that the club’s All-Star centre has stayed healthy despite the positive test.

Malone said on Saturday: “So much is being made of Nikola’s weight loss. I think there was a picture that spread like wildfire while he was home in Serbia. The funny thing for me is long before the league was suspended on March 11, Nikola had lost a ton of weight from the beginning of the season… To his credit, he just continued to be disciplined and focused with his routine during the suspension and hiatus. …

“Nikola had committed himself to losing that weight. From the beginning of the season until now, he has lost a considerable amount of weight, probably in the best shape of his life.”

Jokic, 25, is averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game this season. In five NBA seasons, all with Denver, he is averaging 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

The Nuggets (43-22) sat in third place in the Western Conference when the NBA suspended the season on March 11 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Denver are scheduled to return to action Aug 1 against the Miami Heat.

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