Nikola Jokic back in Serbia in time for harness races

Nikola Jokic still thinks he 'can be much better' (3:32)

Nikola Jokic reflects on the journey to winning the NBA Finals and Finals MVP along with Jamal Murray and coach Michael Malone. (3:32)

SOMBOR, Serbia -- Less than a week after leading the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA championship, Nikola Jokic was back in his hometown of Sombor on Sunday to enjoy his big passion of horse racing.

Thousands of his supporters in the usually sleepy northern Serbian town of some 47,000 people also converged on the local horse racing track where Jokic was watching his family-owned horses compete in harness races. Many had T-shirts with Jokic's portrait, some reading "Be the Next Champion" and "Sombor, the Town of Champions."

A billboard reading "Welcome Home MVP" showed Jokic with his No. 15 Nuggets jersey and also depicting galloping horses.

After winning the NBA title, Jokic was concerned about whether he could return home in time for Sunday's races after the team's victory parade in Denver on Thursday. He joked that he would ask Nuggets president Josh Kroenke to lend him the team plane to make sure he arrived on time.

This was a special day for the Sombor hippodrome. Beer and barbecue stands were in full swing, and even the people waiting in long lines to attend were in a celebratory mood.

Jokic arrived late to the track, followed by local media. Famously shy and laconic, he was not in a talkative mood and declined to talk to journalists, passing them by as he entered the racetrack.

Appearing in the stands from time to time amid members of his family and friends, he watched every race his family's stable participated in, then disappeared out of sight. He was in the company of his wife and daughter, brother, father and friends.

The crowd erupted with applause and joy when Jokic first appeared, wearing a polo shirt that had the "Dream Catcher" inscription, after the name of the first horse he purchased years ago.

His father, Branislav, said Jokic wouldn't be answering questions from reporters.

"He told me 'Dad, I have had enough of publicity during these past few days,'" Branislav Jokic said. "And I believe him."

Jokic developed a strong passion for horses and horse racing in his youth, and it nearly took him away from basketball when he was a kid, his father said.

Denver clinched the NBA title Monday by beating the Miami Heat 94-89, with Jokic posting 28 points and 16 rebounds and collecting the MVP trophy for the NBA Finals.

Jokic, nicknamed Joker by his fans, is coming off a historic playoff performance. He became the first player to lead the league in total points (600), rebounds (269) and assists (190) in a single postseason.