Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic avoids suspension in courtside kerfuffle with Suns owner
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic will avoid a suspension after he made contact with Phoenix Suns team owner Mat Ishbia in a courtside altercation during Game 4 on Sunday night.
Jokic was fined $25,000 over the incident. He will be ready to go for Game 5 after dropping 53 points in a loss as the Suns tied up the series 2-2.
Ishbia tweeted earlier Monday he did not think Jokic should have been fined or suspended.
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“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!” the billionaire wrote. “That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last night's 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!”
In the second quarter, Suns guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats while trying to save a loose ball. He landed in a group of fans on the baseline of the Footprint Center in Phoenix that included Ishbia, who grabbed the basketball.
Jokic was trying to get the ball back in play quickly. When he tried to take the ball from Ishbia, the ball went backward into the crowd, and Jokic appeared to nudge Ishbia to clear his space. Ishbia exaggerated just how hard Jokic pushed him and appeared to flail back dramatically into his seat.
HEAT HOLD OFF KNICKS IN GAME 4, NEED ONE WIN TO REACH EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Jokic was hit with a technical foul. The Suns won the game 129-124.
Denver coach Michael Malone on Monday joked that Ishbia should have been disciplined for flopping.
“I was hoping they’d give him a flopping charge,” Malone said. “That would probably be the only fine I could imagine, but I have no idea.”
Jokic defended himself Sunday night, saying Ishbia was acting as a fan and put his hand on the two-time MVP first.
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“That’s not an owner in the stands. He’s a fan,” he said. “We don’t designate who’s in the stands. I just felt after watching that whole incident, Nikola is just trying to get the ball. I felt the embellishment was almost comical, from my standpoint.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.