The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets are entrenched in a battle in the Western Conference playoffs. The series is now tied at 2-2 after Denver was able to take an early 2-0 lead, but the story after Game 4 is focused more on their center Nikola Jokić than the result of the game.
Suns Owner: Suspending Nikola Jokić Would “Not Be Right”
Nikola Jokic on the incident with the Suns owner:
"He told me I was elbowing the fan, but the fan put his hands on me first. I thought the league is supposed to protect us. But maybe I'm wrong.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 8, 2023
During the second quarter of last night’s contest in Phoenix, there was a situation that occurred along the sidelines and across from the Suns’ bench. A Suns player went flying into the crowd, and Jokic hurried over to recover the ball in order to get a 5-on-4 advantage going. But the ball was being held by a fan who was sitting courtside, and a small tussle ensured when Jokic tried to take it out of his hands.
Jokic wound up pushing the fan away with his forearm and elbow, to which the fan threw up his arms and fell back into his seat as if he flopped on a basketball court.
A technical foul was assessed to Jokic for the incident, and there were rumblings that the MVP center could be suspended for Game 5 for his actions.
Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!
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!
— Mat Ishbia (@Mishbia15) May 8, 2023
As it turns out, that “fan” is Mat Ishbia, who has a net worth of $7 billion, and is the majority owner of the Suns.
Some are putting the blame on Ishbia. He was knowingly holding the ball and purposely keeping it away from Jokic, which the player says affected the flow of the game. Ishbia also appeared to initiate some of the original contact, and it wasn’t as though Jokic ran over to the fray with an intent on pushing a fan back into his seat.
Was the video evidence damning enough to warrant a suspension for the all-important Game 5 on Tuesday night? While there is some “outrage”, many believe that the incident was not serious enough to keep a superstar out of such a big game, and Ishbia himself doubled down on that notion in a tweet on Monday morning.
“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far! 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!”
It is somewhat of a breath of fresh air to see the “victim” immediately squash any problems or rumors. We have been treated to some excellent basketball so far in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and riding a team of their star player for a questionable incident seems like it would be something the league would try to avoid.
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