June 7, 2023

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Nikola Jokic gets his hands on the technology after contacting the Suns owner

Ohm YoungmisukESPN staff writerMay 7, 2023 at 10:12 p.m. ET3 minutes to read

Jokic T’d after contacting Suns Mat Ishbia’s owner

Nikola Jokic tangles with Suns owner Mat Ishbia as he tries to clear the ball from the stands.

Phoenix – Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was assessed on a technical foul late in the second quarter of Game 4 Sunday night after a bizarre incident on the court that saw two-time MVP contact with Phoenix Suns owner Matt Ichpeia as he tried to grab a basketball. Start the next play.

The scene occurred with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter as Suns forward Josh Okoji darted toward the court benches, with Ichpea sitting across the baseline from the Phoenix bench.

Okogie was trying to keep the ball in play for the Suns when he landed in the benches near Ishbia, who ended up with the basketball in his hands. While Ishpea went to check on the Suns player, Jokic, as he often does during games, lunged in and went to quickly grab the basketball so the Nuggets could start offensive possession.

When Jokic tried to get the ball off Ishbia, the ball bounced back into the crowd. As Jokic was standing there asking for the ball back from another fan, his left elbow made contact with Ishpea’s chest. Eshbia, a former Michigan State basketball player who was part of the 2000 national championship team, slumped backwards in his seat with his arms up and an unbelievable look on his face.

Eshpia told The Associated Press at halftime that he was “fine” and more concerned about the match than the dispute. He returned to his usual seats in the second half.

Referees and Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon came by to make sure nothing got out of hand and tensions didn’t flare up. Jokic, who finished with a total of 53 points, later suffered a technical foul but stayed in the game as the Nuggets advanced 55-54.

Phoenix would go on to win 129-124 even in the Western Conference series semifinals at two games apiece. Game five is on Tuesday night.

After the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he thought it was “insane” to assess a technical foul to Jokic in the situation.

“I’m going to get the ball,” Malone said, “and some fan is holding the ball and he wants to be a part of the game. Just give the ball, man.”

When asked if he thought it made a difference that the fan in question was the owner of the Suns, Malone replied, “I don’t give a damn…”

Ishbia has only been the owner of the Suns for a few months after buying a 57% controlling interest from Robert Sarver for $2.28 billion.

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