Sunday, October 1 2023
Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns got caught up in one of the more bizarre on-court scuffles in recent NBA history on Sunday as they battled in Game 4 of their second-round series. Most on-court incidents are between two players, or perhaps a player and an opposing coach. But on Sunday, Nikola Jokic got into a confrontation with Suns owner Mat Ishbia.

It happened with a few minutes remaining in the second quarter. Jokic had just blocked DeAndre Ayton and the ball went out of bounds. Ayton fell while chasing it, and Jokic sensed an opportunity for a 5-on-4 fastbreak, so he ran to grab the ball quickly. The problem? The ball was in the hands of Ishbia, who tried to deny Jokic. As Jokic tried to reach for the ball, he shoved Ishbia, and another fan shoved him back. Jokic was assessed a technical foul for the incident.

The Nuggets made it clear after the game that they were incensed by Ishbia’s actions. Aaron Gordon called the situation “super lame.” Nuggets coach Michael Malone thought it was “crazy that Nikola got a technical foul in that situation,” and chastised Ishbia for holding onto the ball. “Just give the ball up, man,” Malone added. Jokic himself lamented the league’s failure to protect its players from fan interference.

“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic said. “I thought the league is supposed to protect us or whatever, but maybe I’m wrong. We will see.” When asked if he knew who the fan in question was, he revealed that he did, but that it didn’t matter. ” know who he is, but he’s a fan, isn’t he? If he’s sitting on the court then he’s a fan, isn’t he? That doesn’t mean, that, whoever he is, he’s a fan, he cannot influence the game by holding the ball.” Jokic ultimately concluded that it was Ishbia that should be punished. “He’s a fan, he’s supposed to get kicked out if he’s influencing the game.”

After the game, crew chief Tony Brothers explained the decision to give Jokic a technical foul to a pool reporter. “The ball went over into the corner there and one of the fans was holding the ball. Jokic came to get the ball, grabbed it away from the fan, then after that he deliberately gave him a shove and pushed him down, so he was issued an unsportsmanlike technical foul,” Brothers explained. Less clear is what sort of discipline Ishbia could have faced. Normally, a fan would be ejected for interfering with the game in that manner. The situation is murkier when the team owner is involved.

Now, both Jokic and Ishbia will await word from the league office on whether or not further discipline is necessary. Obviously, the NBA wants to avoid situations in which players get into physical altercations with spectators. That is especially true when one of those spectators is one of the league’s 30 governors. But Ishbia was the unquestioned instigator on Sunday, and there isn’t a soul outside of the Suns locker room that wants to see Jokic suspended for Game 5. Fines are likely incoming, but otherwise, it isn’t clear what sort of discipline might follow. 



Devin Booker and Kevin Durant are carrying the Suns at a historic level, but how long can it continue?


St. Louis Cardinals are mishandling Willson Contreras & their 2023 season | Flippin' Bats

Check Also