It’s the Nikola Jokic era, and the Lakers have finally accepted their fate

Few things in life compare to the swift humbleness which falls upon you than when you’re matched up against the best player in a sport for a 7 game series. For the better part of the past two decades, LeBron was the one demoralizing franchises. But his days with the crown have passed and he is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets have owned the Lakers since 2022. With the streak up to 11 straight wins the matchup can only be described as a comedic masterpiece. It’s the same game on an endless loop. Lakers out play Denver for three quarters. Might even secure a 20 point lead. Then Jokic and company decide to actually try for ten minutes and make the Lakers look like a JV team.

We could blame it D’Angelo Russell forgetting how to play the sport, or Darvin Ham’s coaching. These are factors in the Lakers demise. But you know what has coincided this Nuggets dominance over the Lakers?

Nikola Jokic ascending to a top 15 player of all time.

And what is more troubling for the Lakers than the Jokic ascension is it came at the exact time Father Time has slowly crept into LeBron’s window.

LeBron is still a top 10 player on any given night, and honestly against just about anyone in the league, I would still take him in a 7 game series. He is still that level of player in year 21.

But the first step of father time coming for LeBron was taking away his ability to dictate the pace of play for both his team and his opponents. He simply can no longer do that for 48 minutes, let alone 7 games.

He is no longer the apex predator in the league, and while AD is one of the top players, he isn’t that either.

The sole apex predator is Jokic, and it is by a wide margin. The gap between Jokic and number 2 in the league is as wide as it has been between top player and second place since 2014 Lebron James to Kevin Durant.

I think the LeBron and the Lakers have finally accepted that fate. The moment of realization started as they were in the process of  blowing that 20 point lead in Game 2.

The acceptance came as Jamal Murray’s game winner dropped through the net. That dagger was more than a decisive 2-0 series lead. It was the dagger into the soul of the Los Angeles Lakers.

What is insanely frustrating is AD going toe-to-toe with Jokic in counting stats. Lebron is still playing out of his mind. And it simply doesn’t matter. Ala LeBron vs the Raptors duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry back in the day. LeBron was king back then, he dictated wins and losses. Today that position belongs exclusively to Jokic.

And what almost makes it worse is the Nuggets are no longer celebrating the wins over the Lakers like they did all of last year and into the offseason. Beating the Lakers has become a random Tuesday at the office for them. If that doesn’t scream devastating then I don’t know what does.

Now here the Lakers are on the verge of another challenging offseason, with Denver’s dominance sparking all this frustration while expediting those looming questions about James’ future, Ham’s status and the like. And the Nuggets, when given the opportunity to punch down, are far more interested in looking past the Lakers than they are in pouring salt in this purple-and-gold wound.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is. Just this past summer the Nuggets had him questioning if he would retire. Laker nation wanted Ham fired. And other wanted to go all in on a big 3, with no actual plan of doing so. We’re one more loss from reliving last summer.

LeBron used to do this to other franchises. Now he is having it done to him, thanks to a 7 for Serbian who loves horses and minions.

While on that topic, Jokic is one more postseason run from reaching previously unimaginable heights in NBA lore.

We’re still in small sample-size theater territory here, but Jokić is well on his way toward having yet another historic postseason run if this early trend continues. Through three games, he’s averaging 27.7 points (63.5 percent shooting overall; 37.5 percent from 3), 15.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists. In Denver’s 20-game run to the title last season, the 29-year-old averaged 30 points (54.8 percent overall; 46.1 percent from 3), 13.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists.

Back to back seasons of sweeping Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Maybe a KD elimination awaits, or the more likely matchup of tomorrow’s star Anthony Edwards. Oh an a Conference finals with a Luka and Kyrie, or a Hall of Fame filled Clippers.

Jokic could take out some all-time names on his path to his second straight NBA championship, and would anybody be shocked?

He is on cruise control, annihilating the games greats with such ease.

While in the golden years of a forever type player, it’s hard to see the full picture of their dominance. Jokic is on that journey right now, so take a step back and appreciate his greatness.

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