DENVER – Nuggets center Nikola Jokic won’t be suspended after drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the first half of Phoenix’s Game 4 home win Sunday for shoving Suns team owner Mat Ishbia, but the NBA fined him $25,000, the league announced Monday afternoon.
The fine was for “making improper conduct with a spectator.”
NBA officials confirmed to The Republic that Jokic won’t be suspended.
The Western Conference semifinal series is tied 2-2 going into Tuesday’s Game 5 at Ball Arena in Denver.
Jokic wasn’t ejected from the game with 2:36 left in the second quarter, but crew chief Tony Brothers concluded the two-time NBA MVP “deliberately” shoved Ishbia, who fell back into his courtside seat.
“The ball went over into the corner there and one of the fans was holding the ball,” Brothers said in the pool report with the fan being Ishbia. “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.”
Ishbia tweeted Monday morning he didn’t want Jokic to be suspended or fined.
“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far! That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last nights incident would not be right. I have alot of respect for Jokic and don’t want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!”
Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!
That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last nights incident would not be right. I have alot of respect for Jokic and don’t want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!
— Mat Ishbia (@Mishbia15) May 8, 2023
Brothers also explained why Jokic wasn’t ejected from Game 4.
“I just deemed the technical foul the appropriate penalty for what happened over there,” Brothers said. “He didn’t just run over and hit a fan. There was some engagement, so I deemed the technical foul the appropriate penalty.
Jokic scored a playoff career-high 53 points to go along with 11 assists in Game 4. The two-time NBA MVP said he thought Ishbia was “influencing” the game for having the ball after a Phoenix turnover.
“He’s a fan isn’t he?” Jokic said in addressing a question about the identity of Ishbia. “Sitting on the court, he’s a fan, isn’t he? He’s a fan. He can’t influence the game by holding the ball.”
Nikola Jokic on the incident with Suns owner Mat Ishbia: “He (ref) told me I was elbowing the fan, but the fan put the hand on me first. I thought the league is supposed to protect us or whatever, but maybe I’m wrong. We will see.” pic.twitter.com/Drp6N5SZ2M
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 8, 2023
Looking to quickly inbound the ball, Jokic ripped the ball out of Ishbia’s hands, but the ball squirted free into the crowd. He then extended his arm out and made contact with Ishbia, who fell backwards.
“His hands are on me so they’re not going to protect me, they’re going to protect the fan,” Jokic asked. “Not me as a person. I’m talking about as a player. They can do whatever of course. They don’t care, but I think they’re supposed to protect players.”
The fan who caught the ball was looking to throw it back to Jokic, but Suns forward Josh Okogie, who initially dove into the crowd first, intercepted the pass as security came to the scene.
A different fan was removed from the area where Ishbia and Isiah Thomas were sitting after the incident.
Suns officials told The Republic “the attendee was relocated to “diffuse the situation.”
Ishbia was on the 2000 Michigan State national championship basketball team as a walk-on. He’s close friends with Thomas, a Hall of Famer and two-time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons.
Ishbia is from Birmingham, Mich., a suburb of Detroit.
The 43-year-old billionaire mortgage lender became Suns team owner in February as he bought the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury from Robert Sarver for a record $4 billion.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Jokic avoids suspension, fined $25,000 for shoving Suns new team owner
Source: Yahoo Sports