Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic was fined $25,000 after shoving Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia during Sunday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series. On the day following the Suns’ series-tying win, a verdict was reached and announced by Joe Dumars, Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations of the NBA.
The incident took place with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter. With Denver up by a single point (55-54), the ball went out of bounds and ended up in Ishbia’s hands. Jokic hurriedly tried to retrieve it, but as he attempted to take it from Ishbia’s grips, the ball spun out of their hands and landed in a spectator’s possession. Jokic then pushed his left forearm against Ishbia’s chest, who fell back into his seat with his hands in the air.
Security quickly got in between the involved individuals while Denver’s Aaron Gordon pulled his teammate out of the crowd.
The situation was defused before it could escalate. However, another fan, who sat behind Ishbia, was ejected from the arena for reaching and making contact with Jokic’s left arm during the scuffle. Jokic also received a technical foul for the shove.
The game continued, and the Suns left victorious, winning 129-124 despite Jokic’s career-high 53-point showing.
“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic told reporters. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong. I know who he is, but he is a fan, isn’t he?”
When asked about the incident, Suns star Devin Booker jokingly said; “He (Ishbia) got us a point, he did his job.” The reporter responded by saying Ishbia flopped, which got a laugh out of Booker.
Ishbia stated on Twitter that it would be wrong for the league to suspend or fine anyone over the incident. He also expressed his respect for the two-time MVP. Despite the fine, Jokic will be allowed to play in Game 5 on Tuesday.