DJ Burns Balled So Hard To Get NC State To The Final Four That Nikola Jokic Gave Props To March Madness’ Breakout Star

NOvak Jokivic

Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic is a reigning NBA champion and Finals MVP. He’s currently a prohibitive favorite to win three regular-season MVP awards in a four-year span, and has the Nuggets in striking distance to earn the Western Conference’s top seed.

Even in the midst of an all-time great stretch of basketball, Joker is going out of his way at the podium to acknowledge NC State’s beautiful round mound of a young man, DJ Burns.

That’s because Burns has grabbed headlines for an 11th-seeded Wolfpack team who’s made one of the most improbable runs to the Final Four in NCAA Tournament history. A downright silly hot streak for NC State sparked with a victory over Duke in the ACC quarterfinals, required a buzzer beater and OT win in the ACC semis, and once the Wolfpack earned their automatic bid to the Big Dance, they kept the momentum rolling.

Burns stared down the Blue Devils again on Sunday in the Elite Eight, and lit them up for a team-high 29 points in a stunning 76-64 win.

Truly unbelievable stuff. Duke center Kyle Filpowski is a near-lock to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. He couldn’t do a damn thing to slow Burns down, and managed only 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting with nine rebounds and three turnovers before fouling out.

To say Burns’ rise has been meteoric would be the sports-related understatement of the year. I’m confident in saying that, and it’s only about to be April.

Another bold, highly subjective statement I’m willing to go out on a limb for and make anyway. Ready? OK. There will never be a more lopsided battle of big men in terms of fans’ rooting interest than when Burns’ Wolfpack take on Zach Edey’s Purdue Boilermakers in the Final Four.

Edey is the National Player of the Year. At 7-foot-3, he draws an incredible amount of fouls and flat-out knows how to use his frame to his advantage. DJ Burns is a 6-foot-9, 275-pound burly beast who just might be able to make Edey’s life a living nightmare for 40 or so minutes on the hardwood in Glendale, Arizona. This is the showdown America deserves. It just occurred to me that perhaps Edey’s status as a Toronto native is why he gets extra grief from the largely States-based March Madness audience.

Whomever emerges victorious between Burns and Edey will likely get a crack at the defending national champs, as UConn will be a big favorite against fourth-seeded Alabama. You almost couldn’t write a better script to the Big Dance if you tried.

How wild is it that Nikola Freaking Jokic was gearing up for a presser after posting a 28-point, 18-rebound, 16-assist triple-double in a 130-101 blowout of the Cavs, yet held court with the media and was more than happy to talk about DJ Burns? If any individual would’ve told Burns this would be happening a mere couple weeks ago, he’d have looked at that person like they had six heads.

Anyway, another history-making day at the office for Jokic. NBD.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock