On Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokić and the thin balance between life and death

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin


"Memento mori" they say in Latin, which means "remember that you die" and is a reminder of the inevitability of death and the frailty of life. I never understood that when I was younger. We fear death, we avoid speaking and thinking about it, we even pretend it does not concern us, so why remember it?!

Then I learned about the bushido code and the samurai who meditated on death and prepared for it so they make the right choice in a decisive moment and die with dignity. It made more sense but still, "memento mori" was a concept I could not grasp.

As years passed, it struck me that it was more about life than death. It is a motivation to live and to live NOW. To live in the moment, as life coaches and dating app user profiles put it. If you think you are immortal, you waste your time. If you have an imminent deadline (or, perhaps, a deathline?), you treasure every minute, you get things done, you clearly tell what is important from what can be sacrificed.

You do not linger, for it is not safe for you to think that you are going to be here tomorrow, that you will have another chance or another shot.

This is where we get back to sports.

Professional athletes have two lives. One is a human life that spans over 80 years on average. The other one is their career which usually lasts around 20 years and exceptionally expands over three decades as The Curious Case of Jaromír Jágr shows us.

Either way, athlete life is significantly shorter than human life, and athletes should memento mori even more. Every chance, shot, hit, jump, run, swing, turn, move – take it like it is the last thing that you will ever do in your life.

For in sports, the end can take many forms. It can be an injury, a whistle, a trade to another team, a stronger opponent, or pure bad luck which sometimes is measured in an inch or a split second. Or maybe, it is just that your time is up.

Last night Denver Nuggets lost their second game running against Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA playoffs round two and found themselves 2-0 down in the series. Despite being the reigning champions and one of the top picks this season, and despite having the NBA MVP winner of 2021 and 2022 and one of the world's best big men ever in Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets still lost both home games of the series.

Their second biggest star Jamal Murray produced terrible 3-18 field goal shooting and missed all four threes as Denver lost Game two 106-80. To give you some context, there were just six games (of 1,230) in the regular season when one of the teams scored below 81 points. Just another example of how fragile success and fame are.

NBA commentator Rob Perez seems to agree:

I mean no reproach, both Jokić and Murray did their best and what more can you ask of a person? They are not out technically too since it's best-of-seven. But as the series moves to Minnesota, the Nuggets will need nothing short of a miracle to stay alive.

Something on par with the greatest comeback in the history of mankind, recorded by a certain J. Christ a couple of thousand years ago.

Review Author

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin

Hey! I've been working for the official UEFA website for 18 years as a translator, reporter, editor, and language version editor in chief.

Reviewed by Head of Content

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs is an e-sports and biathlon enthusiast with years of writing experience about games, sports, and bookmakers.