Nikola Jokic jokingly tosses basketball to Suns owner IshbiaBy ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) — The sideline fracas between Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic and Suns owner Matt Ishbia over the weekend apparently is a case of basketball bygones.
Jokic, who was fined $25,000 by the NBA for making contact with Ishbia during Game 4, flipped the ball to Ishbia at midcourt Tuesday night after he finished warming up ahead of Game 5.
Ishbia laughed as he caught the ball and rose to greet Jokic. The two men shared a “bro hug,” and brief comments before Jokic continued toward the tunnel with a smile and Ishbia, also grinning, rolled the ball back onto the court.
Things weren’t so congenial between the two 48 hours earlier when Jokic tried to snatch the ball from the new Suns owner who was sitting courtside after a Suns player knocked it out of bounds and fell into the seats.
Ishbia wouldn’t let go, preventing Jokic from quickly handing it to an official for a 5-on-4 break. Jokic took exception and elbowed Ishbia, drawing a techinical foul.
Ishbia lobbied the league not to suspend the two-time NBA MVP on Monday, when Jokic was fined $25,000 but not ordered to sit out Tuesday night’s game in Denver.
The tussle overshadowed the game and set social media ablaze, with some calling Ishbia a flopper who should have been punished like any other fan for disrupting the flow of the game and others suggesting Jokic deserved a suspension for elbowing a spectator.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Monday that the only one who should be fined was Ishbia for flopping. On Tuesday, he called Jokic’s $25,000 fine “old news now. We’re getting ready for Game 5 in front of the best fans in the world. That’s where our whole attention is right now, is trying to figure out a way to retake control of the series.”
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