Nikola Jokic wasn't the last pick in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game draft. But that was news to him.
As LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams ahead of Sunday night's exhibition game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, the last two players available were Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen and the Denver Nuggets center.
Since James used his first starter selection on Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, there was an argument to be made for him to go with the Finnisher over the Joker.
But before James announced his pick, Jokic got up from his chair and walked toward the NBA's all-time scoring leader in an apparent effort to ensure he wasn't the final pick of the draft. James then announced Jokic as his selection.
In the moment, it seemed like a hilariously clever (and justifiable) move from the two-time reigning NBA MVP to avoid being the last pick.
However, after Team Giannis defeated Team LeBron in the All-Star Game, Jokic told reporters that he didn't realize Markkanen was still on the stage and that he walked over to James thinking he was the last pick. He felt bad about the move afterward.
Last pick or not, Jokic wasn't surprised that he didn't get drafted earlier.
“I wouldn’t pick me, either," he said. "This game isn’t for me.”
Jokic, who was making his fifth All-Star appearance, posted four points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in 20 minutes of action.