(CNN)A seven-foot man pulls up at a Serbian stable in a horse-drawn carriage. Within moments, he's in tears.
Far away from the glitz and glamor where he showcases his many skills, Nikola Jokic is being presented with the trophy given to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) outside a horse stable in his home country.
After another dominant year, Jokic was named MVP for the second straight season, in doing so becoming the 15th player in NBA history to win the MVP multiple times.
As a youngster, Jokic says he never harbored dreams of even playing the sport he has come to excel at; he was too busy mucking out the stables.
"I was cleaning the boxes. I was cleaning the horses. At that age, I was not thinking about basketball at all, I'm not going to lie."
Fast forward to 2022 and Jokic has come up smelling of roses after the 27-year-old big man became the second player in a row to win it in successive seasons after Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Perhaps more significantly, it also continues a run of non-American winners of basketball's top individual prize and the upwards trajectory of a new crop of international stars in the NBA.
Before Antetokounmpo won his first MVP title in 2019, there had been a 12-year gap since an international player had won the prestigious award, when Germany's Dirk Nowitzki did so as a member of the Dallas Mavericks in 2006-07.
As well as Nowitzki, Jokic and Antetokounmpo, the only other non-American born players to win the MVP award other are Nigeria's Hakeem Olajuwon, Canada's Steve Nash and Tim Duncan of the US Virgin Islands (while Duncan is a US citizen and represented the US in international play, the NBA considers him an international player).
However, this year's top-three for the prestigious Maurice Podoloff Trophy was an all-international affair as Jokic beat out Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. It's the first time the top three of MVP voting has been composed of all-international players.
In a league that is primarily made up of American stars, having a Serbian, Greek and Cameroonian as the league's best players is a milestone moment for the NBA.
Never before has there been such a concentration of international stars in the NBA. At this year's All-Star game, there were seven international-born players; 30 years ago, there were just two.
In the league's first season in 1946/47, there were five international players in the league. At the start of this season, there were 109 from 39 countries.
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern spotted the potential for global expansion and the opportunity for the sport to expand its borders.