The Denver Nuggets may be facing a significant issue that goes beyond finding a solution to slow down the Phoenix Suns’ stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.
This dilemma arose in the first half of the Western Conference Semifinal game last Sunday between Denver and Phoenix, where Nuggets’ main man Nikola Jokic got involved in a brawl with Suns owner Mat Ishbia. While Jokic was given a technical foul for his part in the altercation, he was not thrown out of the game, allowing him to finish the match.
Although he set a new personal record in the playoffs with 53 points while shooting 20-of-30, the Nuggets suffered a 129-124 defeat on the Suns’ home court, resulting in a tied series of 2-2.
As both teams get ready to return to Denver, supporters on both sides of this intense postseason battle are posing the same query: Will Jokic be eligible to play in Game 5?
Table of Contents
Nikola Jokic-Mat Ishbia Altercation: the Reason of the Conflict?
The Official Explanation for a Technical Foul on Nikola Jokic
Following the Phoenix Suns’ triumph over the Denver Nuggets, crew chief Tony Brothers told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Nikola Jokic received an unsportsmanlike technical foul because he intentionally “gave [Ishbia] a shove and pushed him down.”
Brothers further explained that he saw the technical foul as an appropriate penalty for the altercation that took place. He stated that Jokic did not simply run over and hit a fan, but rather there was some engagement involved. Therefore, he deemed the technical foul to be a fitting punishment.
Brothers’ final remark on the matter suggests that Jokic may not face suspension. It’s worth noting that the NBA rulebook has a specific section on “punching.”
Will Nikola Jokic be suspended?
As of Sunday night, the NBA has not made any announcements regarding additional penalties for Nikola Jokic. The league is facing a difficult decision because Jokic’s actions in the altercation with Mat Ishbia fall into a gray area of the NBA rulebook.
According to a critical section of the NBA rulebook, any player, coach, trainer, or team personnel who intentionally enters the spectator stands during a game will face an automatic ejection. In such cases, the incident is also reported to Basketball Operations by e-mail.
On the other hand, the NBA rulebook specifies that if a player enters the stands to keep a ball in play or due to momentum carrying them into the stands, it is not considered deliberate. The first row of seats marks the beginning of the stands. In Jokic’s case, he did not actually enter the stands as he stayed on the court and did not cross the first row of seats.
In Jokic’s case, he technically did not enter the stands as he remained on the court and did not go beyond the first row of seats. However, Brothers did determine that Jokic deliberately shoved a spectator, which complicates the matter and puts the NBA in a tough spot in deciding on any further penalties.
Nikola Jokic Fails to Lead Denver Past the Suns
Despite Nikola Jokic’s incredible game against the Phoenix Suns, the Denver Nuggets were unable to secure a victory. The Suns claimed a 129-124 win, tying the series at 2-2. Although Phoenix’s performance was impressive, Jokic’s performance was nothing short of extraordinary.
He almost single-handedly led Denver’s offense with an outstanding stat line of 53 points and 11 assists, while Jamal Murray contributed 28 points.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Nuggets team was not up to par in Game 4. As the series remains tied, the Nuggets will aim for a strong performance on their home court to regain the lead. However, Jokic’s potential suspension casts a shadow of uncertainty over the team’s future prospects.
How did the Nuggets and Suns React?
Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic
According to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the referee informed him that he was elbowing the fan during the altercation. However, Jokic argues that the fan initiated the physical contact by placing a hand on him. Jokic expresses disappointment with the league’s handling of the incident and questions its commitment to player safety. He asserts that fans should not be permitted to interfere with the game by holding onto the ball. The situation remains uncertain, and it is unclear how the league will respond.
Nuggets Coach Michale Malone
Michale Malone has expressed disbelief over Nikola Jokic’s technical foul during the altercation with a fan. Michale appeared to be irked by the fan’s actions of holding onto the ball and trying to get involved in the game. Malone pointed out that Jokic was clearly going to retrieve the ball, and the fan should have given it up. Despite Jokic’s forceful attempt to retrieve the ball, the coach remains perplexed as to why Jokic was given a technical foul. Overall, Michale believes that the incident was mishandled, and Jokic’s technical foul was unjustified.
Nuggets Forward Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon expressed frustration with the fan’s behavior during the altercation with Nikola Jokic. Aaron stated that the fan was withholding the ball from Jokic, which was ridiculous. The forward further stated that while they understood that it was the fan’s organization, they should not interfere with the game and allow the players to play. Aaron called out the fan’s actions as “super lame” and implied that it was unfair to Jokic and the game itself.
Suns Guard Devin Booker
The altercation between Jokic and Ishbia has created a contentious situation in the Nuggets vs. Suns series, with Jokic’s potential suspension adding to the drama. While both teams prepare for Game 5, the league is tasked with making a decision on the appropriate penalties for Jokic’s actions. Fans on both sides will be watching closely to see how the situation unfolds and how it will impact the rest of the series.
I’m Heorhii Rysak, a go-to sports enthusiast and blogger. My fascination with sports began in my childhood with karate, setting the foundation for my love of physical fitness. Over the years, I’ve delved into various disciplines, including martial arts and CrossFit, and developed a passion for tennis. I bring a wealth of practical experience to my blog, where I share equipment reviews, workout plans, and fitness advice. My goal is simple: to inspire and assist you in your journey toward better health and performance.