DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets remain in a holding pattern as they await the league’s decision on possible disciplinary action after center Nikola Jokic made contact in the stands with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia.
A fine or suspension could be in line Monday for the two-time NBA MVP. Or no punishment at all.
Suns owner Mat Ishbia holds onto a loose ball out of bounds. Jokic went to go get it. Some tussling ensued. Joker with a little push on Ishbia - and he flops down. What a crazy sequence. #Nuggets @DenverChannel #NBAPlayoffs #BringItIn pic.twitter.com/K2iTOy0U4v— Lionel Bienvenu (@lionelbienvenu) May 8, 2023
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone defended Jokic's actions after the game, referring to Ishbia as a "fan."
"[Jokic is] going to get the ball and some some fan is holding onto the ball like he wants to be a part of the game," Malone said. "Just just get the ball up, man."
A reporter reminded Malone that the fan was indeed the Suns owner.
"I don't give a [expletive]," Malone said. "I really don't care."
Jokic told reporters after the game that referees told him he was given a technical foul for elbowing Ishbia – but said Ishbia initiated physical contact.
"The fan put the hand on me first," Jokic said. "I thought the league was supposed to protect [players] but maybe maybe I'm wrong."
The fact that the fan was Ishbia, Jokic said, doesn't matter.
"He's sitting on the court and he's a fan, isn't he? [...] He's a fan he cannot influence the game by holding the ball," Jokic said.
Ishbia, for his part, wrote on social media Monday morning that he doesn't believe Jokic should be suspended.
"Suspending or fining anyone over last night's incident would not be right," he wrote.
Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!— Mat Ishbia (@Mishbia15) May 8, 2023
That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last nights 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!
Malone is expected to address the media again Monday.
The second-round series moves back to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday night tied at two games apiece after both teams held serve at home.
Don’t see a suspension. He’s retrieving a ball from the stands. Owner should be fined. Jokic got a T. Should end there. But it is unnerving to think about Denver without Jokic for 10 minutes, let alone a game. #Denver7 https://t.co/2kJnWjMgiE— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) May 8, 2023