Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic Receives Technical Foul For Contact with Suns’ Mat Ishbia
The Denver Nuggets headed to Phoenix with a 2-0 series lead over the Suns and looking to end their Western Conference Semifinals series, but the Suns won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even the series as it shifts back to Denver.
Game 4, which took place on Sunday night, saw the Suns turn the tables of momentum on the Nuggets but is also saw Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic receive a technical foul for “deliberately” making contact with Suns owner Mat Ishbia during a weird court-side incident that saw Jokic attempting to rip the ball from Ishbia’s hands and shoving him.
During the incident, Ishbia went to check on the Suns player while holding the basketball and Jokic rushed over to grab the basketball quickly so the Nuggets could start their offensive possession as he tried to take advantage of a potential five on four situation for Denver.
As Jokic tried to take the ball away from Ishbia, it flew backward into the crowd which led to Jokic attempting to take the ball back. In doing so, Jokic’s left forearm made contact with Ishbia’s chest, forcing Ishbia to fall backward into his seat with his arms up.
“[crew chief Tony Brothers] told me I was elbowing the fan,” Jokic said, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “But the fan put the hand on me first. So I thought the league’s supposed to protect us or whatever, but maybe I’m wrong, so we will see.”
“But his hands [were] on me,” Jokic explained further about the incident. “So [the NBA] is not going to protect me? They’re going to protect the fan? Not me as a person; I’m talking about as a player.”
“He’s a fan of [the Suns]. I know who he is, but he’s a fan, isn’t he?” Jokic said. “He’s a fan, isn’t he?” Jokic said. “He cannot influence the game by holding the ball.”
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone offered his own take.
“I think it’s crazy that Nikola got a technical foul in that situation,” Malone said. “He is going to get the ball, and some fan is holding on to the ball like he wants to be a part of the game. Just give the ball up, man.”
When asked if the fan being a team owner made a difference in the matter, Malone was blunt – “I don’t give a s—. I really don’t care.”
The Nuggets are hoping that the NBA doesn’t issue a suspension, and at the time of this report nothing has been stated by the league regarding Jokic’s status for a pivotal Game 5.
“I think it’s an interesting series,” Jokic said. “Hopefully, we can protect our home court. We were doing that [all] year; we did our job [in Games 1 and 2 in Denver]. They did their job [here]. So hopefully, I think in the end it’s going to be an interesting game.”