08 May, 2023
In the fourth game of their second-round series on Sunday, the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns engaged into one of the most peculiar on-court brawls in recent NBA history. The majority of on-court fights involve two players, or occasionally a player and the coach of the other team. However, Nikola Jokic and Suns owner Mat Ishbia got into a fight on Sunday.
With a few seconds left in the second quarter, it took place. DeAndre Ayton had just been blocked by Jokic when the ball went out of bounds. Jokic noticed a chance for a 5-on-4 fast break and sprinted to collect the ball as Ayton stumbled while chasing it.
The issue? Ishbia, who was holding the ball, made an effort to block Jokic. Jokic shoved Ishbia as he attempted to grab for the ball, and another spectator shoved back. Jokic received a technical foul as punishment for the incident.
After the game, the Nuggets made it obvious that they were outraged by Ishbia’s behavior. The issue, according to Aaron Gordon, is “super lame.” Michael Malone, the coach of the Nuggets, criticized Ishbia for keeping the ball in his possession, calling it “crazy” that Nikola received a technical foul in such circumstance. Malone said, “Just give the ball up, man.” Jokic bemoaned the league’s inability to shield its players from obstruction from spectators.
“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic remarked. “I thought the league is supposed to protect us or whatever, but maybe I’m wrong. We will see.” He acknowledged that he was aware of the identity of the fan in issue, but said it didn’t matter. “I know who he is, but isn’t he a fan? He must be a fan if he’s sitting on the court, right? That does not imply that because he is a fan, he cannot affect the outcome of the match by gripping the ball. In the end, Jokic came to the conclusion that Ishbia ought to be punished. “He’s a fan, he should be expelled if he’s interfering with the game,”
Tony Brothers, the crew leader, gave a pool reporter an explanation of the decision to penalize Jokic with a technical foul after the game. “The ball went over into the corner there and one of the fans was holding the ball. 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” according to Brothers. What form of punishment Ishbia may have received is less certain. Normally, if a spectator interfered with the game in that way, they would be sent home. When the team owner is involved, the situation is more complicated.
Jokic and Ishbia are currently awaiting news from the league office about whether or not additional sanctions are required. It goes without saying that the NBA wants to prevent incidents in which players physically fight fans. This is particularly true if one of those viewers is one of the 30 governors of the league. However, Ishbia was without a doubt the aggressor on Sunday, and nobody outside of the Suns locker room wants Jokic to be punished for Game 5. Other than possible fines, it’s unclear what kind of punishment may come next.