The sideline incident between Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokić and Phoenix Suns’ owner Mat Ishbia Sunday night made plenty of waves. Some of those showed up very quickly on TNT’s halftime show, not long after the second-quarter situation in question. That clash saw the ball go out of bounds, Ishbia grab it, Jokić run over to try and rip it away, making contact with Ishbia in the process (who fell to the floor quite dramatically), and then another fan make contact with Jokić.
Nikola Jokić just pushed Suns owner Mat Ishbia out of the way to get the ball back. ? Nice flop by Ishbia, tho pic.twitter.com/k2SeoCbRTC
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) May 8, 2023
While that latter fan was tossed, Ishbia was not. And Jokić received a technical foul. At halftime a few minutes later, that prompted some questions from the Inside The NBA panel of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal. There, Smith said “I don’t understand why he got a technical” and “If it was any other fan in the world, they wouldn’t have given him a technical,” and Barkley saying “If that had been a regular fan, he would have got tossed” and “If another fan wouldn’t have let the ball go, he would have got tossed” to agreement from O’Neal (who said “Would have got tossed, but you’re not throwing me out of my building”) and Smith.
Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith questioned Nikola Jokić receiving a technical and Mat Ishbia not being ejected. "If another fan wouldn't have let the ball go, he would have got tossed," Barkley said. pic.twitter.com/C9mMFOhxVM
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 8, 2023
The identity of the fan in question in courtside clashes does make a difference. We saw that on a much lower scale with Fox’s Shannon Sharpe’s January altercation with Memphis Grizzlies’ players, and having a team owner involved is significantly more concerning for the NBA. But from the Nuggets’ perspective, they would certainly like this to be treated as if it was a normal fan (at least in terms of any follow-up league punishment for Jokić; they probably wouldn’t mind punishment for Ishbia), and head coach Michael Malone made that point in a post-game presser, questioning the technical Jokić drew and making a profane comment about how he didn’t care it was Ishbia involved. And they got some support for that case from the TNT panel here, with both the questions on the technical foul and the non-ejection for Ishbia revolving around him being more than just a regular fan.
[Awful Announcing on Twitter]