Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, shown Sept. 1, 2020, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists this season. File Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE
May 11 (UPI) -- Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic was officially named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the 2021-22 season Wednesday night.
Jokic, a Serbia native who also captured the MVP award last season, is the second consecutive international player to receive the honor in back-to-back seasons after Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo -- who is from Greece -- earned the award in 2019 and 2020.
This marks the first time in league history that two international players have won the award in four straight seasons. Canada's Steve Nash went back-to-back for the Phoenix Suns in 2005 and 2006, followed by Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki -- who hails from Germany -- in 2007.
"I don't know what else you can say about Nikola at this point," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said in a statement. "He's consistently improved his game, he's consistently proven people wrong when they doubt him and he's consistently the best player on the floor night in and night out."
International players finished first, second and third in this year's MVP voting. Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 overall points from the panel of sportswriters and broadcasters that decide on the annual awards.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers was second with 26 first-place votes and 706 points. Antetokounmpo ended in third with nine first-place votes and 595 points. Phoenix Suns star guard Devin Booker finished fourth.
Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists for a Nuggets team that was without Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) this season. Nicknamed "The Joker," he also became the first NBA player to eclipse 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
The 27-year-old Jokic is the 13th player to capture back-to-back NBA MVP awards, joining LeBron James (twice), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice), Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Moses Malone, Antetokounmpo and Nash.
Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain each won the award in three consecutive seasons.