A one-game suspension without pay was handed down on Tuesday to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets after he shoved Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris to the floor during a game on Monday night. Jokic is the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player.
As Jokic was attempting to throw the ball to Morris with less than two minutes remaining in Denver’s 113-96 win, Morris slammed into him with his whole weight.
Morris was sent to the ground as a result of a forearm from Jokic to the back of the head. On Tuesday, the league fined Morris $50,000 for committing a flagrant foul in the game, and the players’ union agreed to a $50,000 punishment for both players. The NBA has announced that Jokic will serve his ban on Wednesday, when the Denver Nuggets take on the Indiana Pacers.
Following the incident, a throng of arguing players and team members gathered at centre court, where they finally dispersed without causing any major injury.
Morris stayed on the ground for some minutes, and a stretcher was brought in to help him, but he was able to get up on his own after that. According to the team, he suffered a neck injury.
After both players were dismissed from the game, Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler received a technical penalty for yelling at Denver’s Nikola Jokic from the Heat’s bench. Butler was fined $30,000 by the NBA “for trying to escalate the incident and failing to participate with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process relative to an on-court infraction,” according to the league.
Following the game, Morris was unavailable for comment, but on Tuesday, he said on Twitter, “No question I took a hard foul, which I usually do, but I’ve never struck a player who was facing the other way.”
In the game, Jokic finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists, giving him his first triple double of the season. He is in the top 20 in all three categories this season, as well as in steals, and he is a strong possibility to win the MVP award for the second time.
Throughout his career, Jokic has made his fair share of aggressive, if not overaggressive, moves. At one point last season, he struck Cameron Payne across the face while attempting to steal the ball from him in Game 4 of their conference semifinals matchup. As a result, he was removed, and the Nuggets were defeated by the Suns, who completed a four-game sweep of the Nuggets. Last season, Jokic had 10 technical fouls, which ranked him 11th in the league.
On Monday night, the Nuggets climbed to 6-4 overall. The Heat are 7-3 this season, with Butler continuing his late-career revival by averaging 25 points per game.