The NBA fined Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic $25,000 for “making improper contact with a spectator sitting courtside,” but did not suspend him for his brief tussle with new Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia during Game 4 on Sunday night.
The incident happened with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter of Phoenix’s 129-124 victory, tying the series at 2-2.
The basketball went out of bounds off of Phoenix and into the hands of Ishbia, who was approved as Phoenix’s new owner in February after agreeing to buy the team from Robert Sarver.
Ishbia refused to give the ball to Jokic who wanted to make a quick inbounds pass. The ball ended up in the stands. Jokic didn’t know who Ishbia is and used a light forearm to shove him. Ishbia flopped back into his courtside side.
Jokic was assessed a technical foul and another Suns fan – not Ishbia – was ejected from the arena.
“Jokic made contact with Ishbia in an attempt to take the game ball away and immediately after when the ball flew further back into the crowd,”The league said in a news release.
“The fan put the hand on me first. I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I am wrong. I know who he is, but he is a fan. Isn’t he?”Said Jokic.
On Monday, Ishbia said he didn’t want the league to suspend Jokic, who had 53 points in Game 4 and is averaging 36.5 points, 14 rebounds and 9.5 assists and shooting 57% from the field and 42.9% on 3-pointers against Phoenix.
Ishbia told The Associated Press at halftime on Sunday that he was “fine” and more worried about the game than the altercation. He was back in his usual seat during the second half.
Ishbia, who played college basketball at Michigan State and made his fortunate in the mortgage business, purchased a majority stake in the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury on a $4 billion valuation.
Source: USA Today