Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic was assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul in the second quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 for shoving Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia on the sideline.
The Nuggets star appeared to use a forearm to shove Ishbia after the owner refused to give him the basketball to inbound. Ishbia then fell backward.
“The fan put their hand on me first. I thought the league is supposed to protect us,” Jokic said after the game, according to Katy Winge of AltitudeTV. “Whoever he is, he’s a fan, he can’t interfere with the game.”
Jokic added that he was trying to retrieve the ball and take advantage of a potential 5-on-4 situation because Suns wing Josh Okogie had fallen to the ground on the baseline, per Winge.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone called it “crazy” that Jokic was assessed a technical foul for the shove, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.
“Going to get the ball, and some fan is holding onto the ball who wants be a part of the game. Just give the ball up, man,” Malone said.
Jokic finished the game with a career-high 53 points, along with 11 assists. The Suns beat the Nuggets 129-124 to even the series.
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