Nikola Jokic issued technical after Suns owner Mat Ishbia altercation

PHOENIX — In the second quarter of Denver’s Western Conference Semifinal Game 4 loss to Phoenix, Nikola Jokic and Suns owner Mat Ishbia made contact after a loose ball ended up out of bounds along the baseline.

Ishbia, who recently purchased the franchise, had the ball in his hands and Jokic tried to take it away from him. Ishbia resisted, and the result included Jokic’s elbow making contact with Ishbia and the owner dramatically flailing himself backward.

The officiating crew led by Tony Brothers ultimately issued Jokic an unsportsmanlike technical foul but did not eject him from the game. Ishbia was not removed from the arena or asked to move from his seat.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone and players including Jokic insisted the two-time MVP did nothing wrong. Malone was incredulous that his superstar got a technical at all, while forward Aaron Gordon called Ishbia’s actions “super lame.”

Jokic said he thought the league was supposed to protect players but ultimately, “they can do whatever they want.”

Here is the transcript between a pool reporter and Brothers after the game:

QUESTION: Why did Nikola Jokic receive an unsportsmanlike technical foul for the fan exchange late in the first half?

BROTHERS: The ball went over into the corner there and one of the fans was holding the ball. Jokic came to get the ball, grabbed it away from the fan, then after that he deliberately gave him a shove and pushed him down, so he was issued an unsportsmanlike technical foul.

QUESTION: So, he pushed the fan down?


QUESTION: It’s the same fan that had the ball, right?

BROTHERS: The fan no longer had the ball, but it was the fan that started with the ball.

QUESTION: What led to him getting the unsportsmanlike technical foul instead of being ejected?

BROTHERS: I just deemed the technical foul the appropriate penalty for what happened over there. He didn’t just run over and hit a fan. There was some engagement, so I deemed the technical foul the appropriate penalty.

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