Ohm Young MisukESPN Staff Writerread in 3 minutes
Phoenix — Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was charged with a technical foul late in the second quarter of Game 4 on Sunday night. Then a bizarre incident occurred courtside when Phoenix Suns owner Matt, his two-time MVP, came into contact with Ishbia as he tried to grab a basketball. Start next play.
The scene occurred with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter as Suns forward Josh Okogee flew toward his courtside seat. Ishbia sat across the baseline from Phoenix’s bench.
Okogee was trying to keep the ball for the Suns, but he landed on a seat near Ishbia, who grabbed the basketball. When Ishbia went to check on the Suns players, Jokic rushed in, as he often does during games, and quickly went to grab the basketball, allowing the Nuggets to open up an offensive possession.
When Jokic tried to wrest the ball away from Ishubia, the ball flew backwards into the crowd. His left elbow touched Ishubia’s chest while Jokic asked another fan to give the ball back. Ishubia, a former Michigan walk-on basketball player who was part of his team at the 2000 National Championships, fell backwards in his seat with his arms up and a look of disbelief. .
Ishbia told the Associated Press at halftime that he was “fine” and was more worried about the game than the argument.
The referee and Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon came by to make sure nothing was getting out of hand and tensions were building. Jokic, who scored a game-high 53 points, later received a technical foul, but the Nuggets were leading 55-54.
Phoenix went on to win by a final score of 129-124, winning two games apiece to the Western Conference semifinal series. Game 5 is Tuesday night.
After the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he thought it was “crazy” that Jokic was called a technical foul in that situation.
“When you go get the ball, it’s held by a fan who wants to be part of the game. Give it up,” Malone said.
When asked if the fan in question thought being a Suns owner made a difference, Malone replied, “I don’t give a s—.”
Ishbia was a Suns owner for only a few months after purchasing a 57% stake from Robert Sarver for $2.28 billion.