By Justin Adams

DENVER (CBS4)– As the NBA season winds down this week, Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic remains the frontrunner to win the league’s MVP award. If this happens, Jokic would become the first player to win the award in NBA history and will also hold another distinction – as the worst player to be named MVP in 35 years, according to one national sports personality.

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets leaves the court after the second overtime of Denver’s 139-137 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Ball Arena on April 19, 2021. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Fox Sports analyst Nick Wright, said on the show “First Things First” last Thursday that, “When you look at the league of MVPs over history, I say this with respect to Jokic, historically speaking, he would be the worst one we’ve had in 35 years.”

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The comment drew the ire of many Nuggets fans and injured star, Jamal Murray.

One person who wasn’t surprised by the comments was Nuggets head coach Michael Malone.

“Listen, Nikola doesn’t get respect,” Malone said. “The Nuggets don’t get respect. I don’t get respect. Who cares? All I care about is us staying together, us finding ways to win, and continuing to prove people wrong, which I think we’ve done a great job of. I don’t know if there’s been a more resilient team in the last few years.”

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets looks on during warm-ups before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on May 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Malone points to the different injuries the team has had to overcome this season starting with the loss of Murray with a torn ACL. Without him in the lineup, the Nuggets are 11-4.

“It’s incredible what this team continues to do and we don’t worry about the outside noise,” Malone added.

Will Barton and Monte Morris have also missed time with hamstring injuries and PJ Dozier is sidelined with a right abductor strain. Stepping up with the players out is second-year forward Michael Porter Jr. who’s averaging a career-high 19.4 points this season, doubling his scoring total from his rookie year. Malone believes Porter Jr. should be in the conversation for the league’s comeback player of the year award.

Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (credit: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

“I give him a tremendous amount of credit for stepping his game up, for him constantly being available and answering the call, and obviously we’re going to need more of that as we move to the postseason.”

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The Nuggets finish the regular season on the road against the Detroit Pistons on Friday the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Justin Adams