PHOENIX SUNS

MVP Jokic gives Suns C Ayton uplifting message on signed jersey

Jun 17, 2021, 12:47 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm
Follow @kzimmermanaz...

Deandre Ayton’s eyes light up any time he’s asked about learning from any of the NBA’s star big men.

The Phoenix Suns center takes pride in stealing little tricks from each of them.

After battling Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in Game 3 of the conference semifinals last week, for example, Ayton couldn’t help but shake his head reading the MVP’s stat line.

Jokic has held Ayton’s respect since the Suns center’s rookie year, which is why what Ayton acquired following Phoenix’s elimination of the Nuggets is likely so much more special.

It wasn’t just more affirmation that Ayton could sign a monster extension this summer or more experience against one of the league’s best players.

Ayton got an uplifting message from Jokic written on the Denver center’s jersey. He has earned the league MVP’s respect.

“To my brother DA … U are beast !!!” the signed jersey said. “Keep up the good work !!!”

Jokic averaged 29.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Nuggets’ 10-game postseason run.

Ayton had a field day in the paint in the Suns’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, but his work against Jokic in the second round was arguably more impressive.

The third-year pro is now averaging 15.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game on 72% shooting this playoff run. His individual defensive efforts against Jokic stood out, even as the Nuggets big man continued to put up video-game numbers.

Jokic wasn’t shy about letting Ayton know how well he put up a fight.

Suns forward Jae Crowder told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday that should mean more than anything.

“I told him to his face I’m proud of him,” Crowder said of Ayton. “Especially after Game 4 in Denver, I told him I’m proud of him. ‘That jersey Jokic sent … showed his respect for you. You got that by playing basketball, not by talking, not by anything but between the lines, mutual respect.’

“That’s the highest respect you can get from your peers, is respect on the court. He just earned him one by the league MVP.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Gold...
Sam Graveline

ESPN’s Pelton gives Phoenix Suns ‘C+’ offseason grade

Despite the Phoenix Suns being among the few teams to dominate the offseason news cycle, ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave them a C+ grade.
14 hours ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns throws up a shot during the second half of the NBA game at ...
Kellan Olson

Suns’ Cam Johnson to coach at Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia

Cam Johnson will be coaching some of the top prospects from the Asia-Pacific region at a Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia.
2 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a teammate scored against the Los Angeles Lakers...
Kevin Zimmerman

Ish Wainright on Suns return, when NFL career was toast and Game 7

Ish Wainright hit on a few topics on Bickley & Marotta, including how he feels the Suns have responded to their Game 7 loss.
3 days ago
Follow @KellanOlson...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker’s signature Phoenix Suns moves tracked for NBA 2K23

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker will grace the cover of NBA 2K23 and the game will feature his signature moves.
4 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference...
Kellan Olson

Ish Wainright returns to Phoenix Suns on 2-way contract, per report

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a two-way contract with forward Ish Wainright, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
5 days ago
Duane Washington Jr. #4 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after forcing a turnover by Trae Young #11 of ...
Jake Anderson

Phoenix Suns sign guard Duane Washington Jr. to 2-way contract

The Phoenix Suns have officially signed guard Duane Washington Jr. to a two-way contract, the team announced Wednesday.
5 days ago
MVP Jokic gives Suns C Ayton uplifting message on signed jersey