Nikola Jokic PUSHES Suns owner Mat Ishbia as he takes the ball off the stands and gets a technical foul…
- Jokic scored a career-high 53 points in Sunday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns
- There was no word yet from the league about possible further discipline
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Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic rejected claims that he could be suspended for Game 5 of the series with the Phoenix Suns after receiving a technical foul for shoving Suns owner Mat Ishbia into the game.
The incident occurred in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday when Suns guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats while trying to save a loose ball. He landed in a group of fans at the baseline, including Ishbia, who took the basketball.
Jokic was trying to get hold of the basketball quickly—apparently so the Nuggets could begin their offensive possession—when he tried to get the ball away from Ishbia. The ball flew backwards into the crowd, and then Ishbia was knocked back by Jokic’s elbow.
Jokic was not apologetic after the game, that one the Suns won 129-124 but he scored a brilliant total of 53 points.
“The fan laid hands on me first,” Jokic said. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong. I know who he is, but he’s on the field, so he’s a fan, right? He can’t influence the game.’
Nikola Jokic was seen shoving Suns owner Mat Ishbia as he tried to get the ball
After the incident, coaches, officials and other players quickly stepped into two separate Jokic from the front row of the crowd
Ishbia (second from left) was sitting on the right side in his usual seat when the push occurred
He was asked if he was concerned about risking a fine or suspension for Game 5.
‘Why? His hands are on me,’ Jokic said. Won’t they protect me? Are they going to protect the fan? I’m talking about it as a player.
“Of course they can do anything, they don’t care, but I think they have to protect players.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone added, “(Jokic) is going to get the ball and some fan is holding the ball like he wants to be a part of the game. Just give up the ball, man.’
When Malone was told the fan was Ishbia, he simply replied, “I don’t care.” I really don’t care.’
There were a few minutes of confusion as the officials sorted out the weird scene, after which Jokic received a technical foul. The Suns made the ensuing free throw.
Suns star Devin Booker – who finished with 36 points and 12 assists – said he knew it was Ishbia in the middle of the fight.
“He has a point for us!” Booker said with a grin.
Despite the push, Jokic scored a career-high in the postseason with over 50 points
Denver’s MVP candidate also recorded 11 assists to finish the night with another double-double
Ishbia told The Associated Press at halftime that he was “fine” and was more concerned about the play than the altercation.
In the second half he was back in his familiar place. The incident didn’t seem to faze Jokic either – finishing second in the MVP with 53 points on 20-of-30 shooting.
Ishbia has only owned the Suns for a few months and bought the team from the embattled Robert Sarver.
Game 5 is on Tuesday in Denver. The series is tied to two games each.