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Nikola Jokic on Game 5 slam dunk amid 40-point performance: “I’m a freak of nature”

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Nikola Jokic on Game 5 slam dunk amid 40-point performance: “I’m a freak of nature”


All in a day’s work, Nikola Jokic dodged questions about his aggression against Rudy Gobert, exhibited gentle embarrassment at being called a genius by his coworkers, then referred to himself as a freak of nature with a complete poker face.

That was at the podium. On the court, he passed behind his back to perimeter shooters, behind his back to the baseline dunkers, over the top of five defenders for Hail Mary touchdowns. He shot 8 for 9 against a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, made ambidextrous hook shots and step-back 3s and spinning driving and-ones and thunderous two-handed slams. All in a day’s work.

“There aren’t enough words,” Aaron Gordon said. “He was amazing tonight. That was ridiculous.”

“It felt like he had 50,” Jamal Murray said after Denver’s Game 4 win, 112-97, over the Timberwolves. “Whenever he gets going like that, you kind of let him dictate the way the game’s gonna go.”

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The actual total was 40. And 13 assists. It was the 10th time in Jokic’s career that he has scored that many points without a teammate going for 20. In each of the three playoff games when that phenomenon occurred before Tuesday, the Nuggets lost. Jokic wouldn’t let them lose this one.

So he was entitled to at least one cocky postgame quote, even if its true subtext was self-deprecating.

“I had an open lane,” Jokic said of his first-quarter dunk. “And you know, I’m a freak of nature. Why not show my athleticism?”

By Jokic standards, the driving finish was emphatic. Rarely, if ever, does the Serbian center cock the ball back over his head before throwing down a dunk — except when warming up, as teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope pointed out. When Gordon was asked to share which of Jokic’s improbable shots was his personal favorite, the choice was easy. “When he goes through the lane and he tomahawks it,” Gordon said, grinning, “that’s my favorite.”

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It was the second game in a row Jokic has manufactured a highlight that way, following his one-handed jam over Anthony Edwards in Minnesota. This one established the volume of Ball Arena and the tone of a fiercely competitive swing game in the series. Denver has now clawed back from down 2-0 to lead 3-2, thanks in large part to Jokic’s scoring mindset.

His post-ups against Gobert were the main event of the highlight reel. Jokic pivoted in both directions to drop Gobert in a blender early. He play-faked at all the right moments and pulled the trigger without a fake precisely when Gobert was on his heels. He ducked underneath the rim for a reverse hook and leaned away from the rim when he needed one more centimeter of space. He used the glass. Or sometimes he didn’t. He customized his release angle based on space. He heightened the parabola of his arc.

For as much artistry as Jokic is said to incorporate to the game of basketball, his shot-making in Game 5 felt more like the work of a mathematician.

“His IQ is off the charts,” coach Michael Malone said. “He probably belongs to Mensa. He probably doesn’t even know what Mensa is. I’ll quiz guys throughout the series, about play calls, about personnel tendencies, about game plan, and Nikola, he is ahead of everybody. He just knows everything.”

Presented with Malone’s IQ compliment and Gordon’s recent anointment of genius status, Jokic placed his head in his hands. “Funny,” he said meekly.

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But that’s the juxtaposition that defines Jokic: His puzzle-solving brain is his superpower, yet the only obstacle between him and consistent 15-for-22 games is the “22” part — some mental barricade. Call it shooter’s block. His mind even betrayed him in Game 2 of this series, when he attempted only 13 field goals in 39 minutes of a blowout loss. He was too determined to pass for his own good.

“Sometimes he’s a little too passive,” Gordon said. “So we appreciate it when he shoots more.”

Jokic’s ownership of the Gobert matchup is increasingly apparent. It dates back years, to the 2020 bubble when the Nuggets overcame a 3-1 first-round deficit to Gobert’s Jazz. Now they’re are on the verge of snatching another series from him, and Jokic’s relentless pursuit of a one-on-one bucket is a major reason why.

When Karl-Anthony Towns guards Jokic, Gobert is lurking on the back line, a physical roadblock to supplement any mental ones. But Denver has improved throughout the series at finding ways to switch Towns or the second Minnesota big off of Jokic, then spacing the original defender to the opposite side of the floor. Jokic’s eyes light up.

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He’ll never admit that.

“Some of the shots were really tough,” he said of the 8-for-9 clip against Gobert. “Some of the shots were shots I think I can make. He’s a good defender. Always makes you do a little bit more. And sometimes you need to make a tough shot.”

That, Jokic did. Gobert played some of his most impenetrable defense in the post and on the perimeter. It was helpless. And the newly anointed three-time MVP saved his best for last — an off-the-dribble, step-back 3-pointer in Gobert’s face and over his contest at the shot clock buzzer. It landed Jokic at 40, extended the lead to 13 and extinguished Minnesota’s last remaining comeback ambitions.

“When he gets it going,” Murray said, “and he’s throwing up that stupid one-legged, one-armed behind-the-backboard (shot), I’m just going back on defense.”



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Denver, CO

Insider Reveals Bottom-Line Truth About Why Courtland Sutton is Holding Out

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Insider Reveals Bottom-Line Truth About Why Courtland Sutton is Holding Out


Veteran wide receiver Courtland Sutton has been absent from the voluntary portion of the Denver Broncos offseason training program. Sutton is reportedly seeking a new contract, despite having two years left on his current deal.

Sutton is set to earn a $13.5 million base salary in 2024, but only $2 million of is guaranteed. Theories have abounded on exactly what the veteran wideout wants from the Broncos, wth some surmizing that he might simply be seeking more guarantees in his contract.

However, according to ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler, Sutton is seeking a modest raise from the Broncos.

“He’s due about $13.6 million in cash this year,” Fowler said during a SportsCenter appearance. “He’d like to see that get up, maybe in that $15-$16 million range. We’ll see if they can find a sweet spot.”

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Fowler also reported that no “real progress” has been made between Sutton and the Broncos. However, head coach Sean Payton played down Sutton’s hold-out thus far, saying last week followijgn an OTA practice, “That will sort itself out.”

If Sutton is only seeking a $2-3 million raise, Payton’s response is more understandable. For a playmaker who carried the Broncos’ passing offense last year, totaling a career-high 10 receiving touchdowns, throwing a couple extra million on top of what he’s making now wouldn’t be asking for the world.

The Broncos will want to be smart about it, though, as Sutton is entering his age-29 season. He’ll turn 30 in October of 2025, which is only a couple of months before his current contract expires. Broncos GM George Paton planned that well when he extended Sutton back in 2021.

Perhaps the Broncos don’t need to add any years to the term of Sutton’s contract, and instead, literally just give him a raise. Increase his $13.5M salary to, say, $15.5M, offer some additional money via playing time incentives, and convert more of it into guarantees.

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Sutton hasn’t missed any mandatory team activities thus far. But 9NEWS‘ Mike Klis, with some mandatory stuff coming up in June, did the research on what it would cost Sutton in fines to skip out on the requisite minicamp this summer, which is from June 11-13.

Klis wrote on Twitter that Sutton could be fined $16,953 for missing the first day of mandatory minicamp, $33,908 for the second, and $50,855 for the third day. It adds up to a pretty penny, but only if the Broncos enforced his contract and fined him.

For NFL players in Sutton’s earning bracket, that’s chump change. And he could make it all back and a heck of a lot more by coming out on the winning end of his hold-out and getting the Broncos to acquiesce.

Meanwhile, the Broncos aren’t lacking pass-catchers, with Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele added in the NFL draft, as well as Tim Patrick returning from injury. Throw in Marvin Mims Jr., Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Brandon Johnson, and others, and Bo Nix, Zach Wilson, and Jarrett Stidham have no shortage of guys to throw to during in OTAs.

But it sure would be nice to have the alpha dog in the house.

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Denver celebrating 50 years of LGBTQ Pride, expecting 550,000+ attendees

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Denver celebrating 50 years of LGBTQ Pride, expecting 550,000+ attendees


The City of Denver is one month away from celebrating one of the biggest festivities in Colorado: Denver Pride. This is the 50th year of the celebration. 

This event brings hundreds of thousands of people together from the LGBTQ+ community with allies. CEO Rex Fuller with Center on Colfax tells CBS Colorado Traffic Reporter Brian Sherrod this is expected to be the biggest pride ever. Denver Pride is expecting to have more than 550,000 in attendance the weekend of June 22nd and June 23rd. 

At the Denver Pride celebration, attendees can expect a world of dancing, multiple stages with entertainers, a trans resource center and much more. Even though this event is meant for everyone to have fun, Fuller tells CBS Colorado not to forget the people who fought and continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Fuller tells CBS News Colorado in many states, communities are losing their rights to be themselves. Fuller says the fight for equality never stops.

DENVER, CO – JUNE 25: Employees of Coors Brewing Company hold balloons that spell out PRIDE as they take part in the Denver Pride Parade on June 25, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Hundreds of thousands joined in or attended the parade that went for three hours. The parade spanned 14 blocks of Colfax Avenue from Cheesman Park to Civic Center, where the celebrations continued on day two of Denver PrideFest.
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Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images


“Fifty years ago, when they were first holding pride, there were no civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community,” Fuller said. “You could easily be fired for being gay or lose your housing. By being visible and being out and proud in the community, that really has led to changes over the last five decades where we have marriage equality. Now, we have a lot of civil rights protections in the state of Colorado in the community.”

Denver Pride will be held at Civic Center Park on Saturday, June 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, June 23rd from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

This year’s festivities will include: 

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·                     The Denver PRIDE 5K. Participants will run, walk or roll starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, while raising funds for critically important programs supporting Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community.  

·                     Coors Light Denver Pride Parade. It will be kicking off at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 23. The parade spans 14 blocks and features hundreds of floats, music and marchers. 

The Center Stage even has a new line-up to include: 

Alyssa Edwards presented by Nissan (she/her) Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson, widely known as Alyssa Edwards, is an American entertainer, choreographer, drag performer, and television personality. Before gaining television fame, Johnson was a highly skilled dance instructor and an accomplished figure in the drag pageantry scene. His breakthrough came on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2012, where his candid testimonials, iconic tongue-pops, and distinctive personality made him a fan favorite. He later returned for Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars in 2016, finishing as the fourth runner-up. Alyssa Edwards has since become a household name with a global presence, captivating audiences across North America, Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. In addition to his international appearances, Johnson owns and operates the award-winning dance studio Beyond Belief Dance Company in Mesquite, Texas. The studio and Johnson are featured in the Netflix Original docuseries Dancing Queen, produced by RuPaul and World of Wonder. 

Shea Couleé (she/they) is a non-binary, internationally-renowned drag superstar, recording artist, model, and actor, known for their fashion-forward editorial looks, expanding their artistry and brand into many different spaces, and their consistent use of the art of drag and costuming as a medium for larger storytelling, having been applauded by Vogue for doing so. Widely celebrated as an activist focused on uplifting LGBTQIA+ individuals and the BIPOC community, they have countlessly shared how important it is for them to harness their career in drag to inspire, calling their drag a “love letter to Black women.” Couleé is the Season 5 winner (2020) of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars and finished a finalist on Season 7 (2022), the special all-winners edition. 

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Pattie Gonia (they/she/he) is a critically acclaimed drag queen, artist and environmentalist. Their work exists to diversify the outdoor/environmental movements and Make Nature Gay Again. Pattie has been named Outside Magazine’s Person of the Year, National Geographic Traveler of the Year and most recently, Time Magazine named Pattie a Next Gen Leader 2023. 

Together with her community, they’ve fundraised over $2 million for LGBTQIA+, BIPOC and environmental non-profits, completed thousands of miles of hiking and raised awareness about the ongoing environmental crisis through their film projects like Won’t Give Up with Yo-Yo Ma and Quinn Christopherson. 

Mirage, (she/her) hailed the “Legs of Las Vegas,” Mirage steals the show wherever she goes, captivating audiences worldwide with her electrifying performances and signature heel clacking. Since her crushing exit from the show, Mirage has successfully secured her spot as a fan favorite on the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and with over 5 million streams on Spotify, she’s also secured her spot as an official dance floor diva with her viral hit “She’s such a B****.” What will she do next? It’s all.. a Mirage. 

Also, this year, Denver PrideFest will go green with the launch of new sustainability initiatives for the festival’s 50th anniversary. With the help of Southwest Airlines, the festival will add 150 recycling bins on-site with the goal of reaching 50 percent waste diversion. 

Past festivals have left Civic Center Park clean and in good condition as part of Denver PrideFest’s ‘Leave No Trace’ policies. New this year, every trash can at PrideFest will be paired with a recycling bin to increase waste diversion. A green team of volunteers and staff will focus on education, awareness, and creating a clean stream of material to be recycled after the event. 

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To encourage sustainability during the event and after, Denver PrideFest will partner with environmentalist and drag queen Pattie Gonia to develop sustainability education content for social media and the Denver Pride website. Pattie Gonia will also perform on Center Stage as a headliner and encourage attendees to recycle through on-site stage announcements. 

“Partnering with Southwest Airlines and Pattie Gonia represents a significant step forward in Denver PrideFest’s ongoing efforts to reduce waste and increase sustainability,” said Rex Fuller, CEO of The Center on Colfax. “These collaborations allow us to make a greener festival experience a reality, resulting in a positive impact in our community.” 

 Additional waste reduction initiatives include: 

  • Water trailers on-site to fill reusable water bottles and cut down on the number of single-use plastic bottles
  • Utilizing reusable cups (rcups) in the VIP area for all mixed drinks
  • Moving toward serving drinks in recyclable aluminum cans
  • Requiring food vendors to supply recyclable containers for their product

Find the full details including the Pride Parade and how to volunteer online: https://denverpride.org/

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Denver area events for Tuesday

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Denver area events for Tuesday


If you have an event taking place in the Denver area, email information to carlotta.olson@gazette.com at least two weeks in advance. All events are listed in the calendar on space availability.

Tuesday

Cocktails & Taste Tour — With four craft cocktails and three food pairings, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Denver, $79-$85. Registration required: deliciousdenverfoodtours.com.

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Sipping N’ Painting Hampden — “Hydrangeas,” 6:30-8:30 p.m., Sipping N’ Painting Hampden, 6461 E. Hampden Ave., Denver, $35. Registration required: sippingnpaintinghampden.com.

Lord of Acid — With Praga Khan, 7 p.m., ReelWorks, Denver, $35 and up. Tickets: reelworksdenver.com.

Gabe Gravangno, Piano — 7-9 p.m., Mercury Café, Rose Room, Denver; mercurycafe.com.

Whitworth — With Nicki Walters and Mlady, 7:30 p.m., Skylark Lounge, Denver, $12.06. Tickets: skylarklounge.com.

Vocal Jazz Ensembles: Resonance, The Vocal Syndicate, Vocal Spectrum — 7:30-9 p.m., Newman Center for the Arts, Room 121, Williams Recital Salon, Denver; newmancenterpresents.com.

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Wednesday — With Draag, 8 p.m., Gothic Theatre, Englewood, $27.50. Tickets: axs.com.

The Sadies — With Big Seasons, 8 p.m., Globe Hall, Denver, $22. Tickets: globehall.com.

Open Jam Supper Club — Featuring members of 40 Oz to Freedom, Taylor Scott Band, Cass Clayton Band, Space Orphan, 8 p.m., Cervantes’ Other Side, 2635 Welton St., Denver. Tickets: cervantesmasterpiece.com.

Turn Up Tuesday Open Mic — 9 p.m., Goosetown Tavern, 3242 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; goosetowntavern.com.

Dark Tuesdays — With Darkwave, EBM, Industrial, Synthpop, Futurepop and more, 9 p.m., HQ, 60 S. Broadway, Denver; hqdenver.com.

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”Collective Nouns” — Through July 17, Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, Denver; msudenver.edu/cva.

”Sandra Vásquez de la Horra: The Awake Volcanoes” — Through July 21, Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver, go online for prices: denverartmuseum.org.

”Process Make Perfect: Printmakers Explore the Natural World” — Through July 28, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, go online for prices; botanicgardens.org.



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