Will Jokic play in Game 5 after shoving Suns owner?
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic received a technical foul for shoving Pheonix Suns owner Mat Ishbia in their Game 4 Western Conference semifinal on Sunday.
The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns are now tied in the Western Conference semifinals series 2-2 after they lost 129-124 on Sunday in a Game 4 that saw their star player hit with a technical foul for shoving the Suns owner.
What happened between Jokic and Ishbia?
During the second quarter of the game, Suns forward Josh Okogie dove into the stands to try and retrieve a loose ball that had bounced into the hands of Suns owner Matt Ishbia. Then, Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokic - known for trying to get the fast break - tried ripping the ball from Ishbia’s hands, who didn’t let it go easily. Instead, the ball flew further in the crowd and then Jokic appeared to give a little side shove which saw Ishbia fall backwards to the floor.
Just before the shove, a fan had put his hand on Jokic, perhaps trying to alleviate the situation, but that got him relocated instead. Jokic was given a technical foul for the incident, but now the question is whether or not he will receive further punishment. A suspension could see him sit out Game 5 of the series - or more - which would be a huge loss for the Nuggets, especially at this point in the playoffs. Jokic was responsible for 53 of the Nuggets points in that game.
Here is what the NBA rulebook says bout incidents like this:
Under this guideline, one could make the argument that Jokic did not actually enter the stands. Either way, the fact that Jokic received just a technical foul and not an ejection could indicate that already the officials saw this as a minor infraction. Still, it’s likely they will take a closer look to investigate and decide accordingly. Game 5 between the Nuggets and Suns is on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET in Denver.
What did Jokic say about shoving the Ishbia?
Jokic does not see a suspension as a possibility and referred to Ishbia as “the fan”, and saw him as the aggressor. He said that the league should be protecting the players - not the fans.
“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic said. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I am wrong. I know who he is, but he is sitting on the court so he is a fan, isn’t he? He cannot influence the game.”
“They can do whatever of course,” he continued. “They don’t care, but I think they are supposed to protect players.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone echoed Jokic’s sentiments, saying that regardless of whether it was a fan or it was Ishbia, “I really don’t give a s**t.”