DENVER (AP) — Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was fined $25,000 by the league Monday for making inappropriate contact with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia in the stands.
However, without suspension. The two-time NBA MVP is ready for Tuesday night’s Game 5 in Denver with the second-round series tied 2-2.
It was almost the result Ishbia was hoping for in a streak where the home team has won every game.
On his Twitter account On Monday, Ishbia praised his team’s performance and called for no further disciplinary action against Jokic.
“Great win for the Suns last night in what has been an amazing streak so far!” Ishbia posted. “That should and is the only story. It would not be right to suspend or fine someone for last night’s incident. I have a lot of respect for Jokic and I don’t want to see something like that. Excited for Game 5! Los Sonnen!”
Jokic was penalized with a technical foul in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday night when the big man tried to snatch the ball away from Ishbia, who was sitting on the sidelines, and hit Ishbia with an elbow.
The situation set social media on fire and overshadowed a game in which the Suns won 129-124. One of the topics of discussion was whether it was a flop by Ishbia, a former walk-in basketball player at Michigan State or excessive contact from Jokic.
“I was hoping they would flop him,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of Ishbia on Monday. “That would probably be the only fine I could think of, but I have no idea.”
The mini riot began when Sun guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats while trying to save a loose ball. He ended up in a group of fans at the baseline that included Ishbia, who was holding on to basketball.
Jokic tried to get the ball quickly – apparently so the Nuggets could gain their offensive possession – as he tried to take the ball away from Ishbia. The ball flew backwards into the crowd and then Ishbia was knocked backwards by Jokic’s elbow.
Jokic defended his actions after a game in which he had 53 points and 11 assists.
“The fan laid his hand on me first,” explained Jokic. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I’m wrong. I know who he is, but he’s a fan. Isn’t he?”
“That’s not an owner in the stands. He’s a fan,” Malone said Monday. “We do not determine who is in the stands. After watching this whole incident, I just felt like Nikola is just trying to get the ball. I found the embellishment almost comical from my point of view.”
There were a few minutes of confusion as officers sorted out the strange scene and then Jokic was assessed a technical foul. The Suns then made the free throw.
Devin Booker finished the tournament with 36 points and 12 assists. He also gave a shout out to the Suns owner.
“He got us a point!” Booker said with a grin.
Ishbia has only been the owner of the Suns for a few months and bought the team from the embattled Robert Sarver.
Ishbia told The Associated Press at half-time that he was “fine” and more worried about the game than the altercation. In the second half he was back in his usual places.
The argument didn’t seem to bother Jokic either — the MVP runner-up scored or assisted 78 points Sunday, which was the most in a center playoff game in NBA history. according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Brandt reported from Phoenix.