NBA playoffs: Suns owner Mat Ishbia says suspending Nikola Jokić after Game 4 shove 'would not be right'
Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia addressed his courtside altercation with Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić on Monday morning.
Jokić was assessed a technical foul Sunday during the Suns' Game 4 win and Ishbia took to Twitter to say the disciplinary action should stop there.
"Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far! That should be and is the only story," Ishbia wrote. "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!"
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
The incident occurred with 2:36 left in the second quarter, Suns guard Josh Okogie tumbled into the stands while chasing a loose ball. When the ball landed in Ishbia's hands, Jokić yanked it away from him. Once Jokić jarred the ball loose, he shoved Ishbia in the chest with his elbow, sending the Suns owner tumbling back into his seat.
Ishbia can be seen in a green jacket in the video below:
Nikola Jokic shoves Suns Owner Matt Ishbia after trying to get the ball 😬 pic.twitter.com/tnYsILH3kV
— Backcourt Alerts (@BackcourtAlerts) May 8, 2023
Jokić and Okogie both returned to the court after security intervened. Another video angle shows Jokić looking directly at Ishbia before making contact with him. Meanwhile, Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas is seen grabbing a chunk of Jokić's jersey while a third person in a black shirt can be seen putting his hand on Jokić's left arm.
Ishbia and Thomas were not penalized, while the person in the black shirt was escorted out. Jokić went on to score 53 points in the loss.
While some might have wondered why Jokić wasn't ejected, he and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone felt he shouldn't have even been assessed the technical foul.
“The fan put the hand on me first," Jokić said while declining to say Ishbia's name. "I thought the league's supposed to protect us or whatever. So, but maybe I’m wrong."
He continued, even after a reporter pointed out the fan was the Suns' owner.
"He's sitting on the court, then he’s a fan, isn’t he? ... Whoever it is, he is a fan. He cannot influence the game holding the ball.”
Malone echoed Jokić's sentiments.
"I think it's crazy that Nikola got a technical foul in that situation," he said. He's going for the ball and some fan holds onto the ball like he wants to be a part of the game?"
Malone and Jokić's comments considered, it's possible Ishbia is hoping to avoid a fine himself.