Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia were involved in an odd moment in the midst of Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals matchup on Sunday night.
In the second quarter, Suns guard Josh Okogie crashed into the seats while trying to save a loose ball. He landed in a group of fans on the baseline of the Footprint Center in Phoenix that included Ishbia, who grabbed the basketball.
Jokic was trying to get the ball back in play quickly. When he tried to take the ball from Ishbia, the ball went backward into the crowd and Jokic appeared to nudge Ishbia to clear his space. Ishbia exaggerated just how hard Jokic pushed him and appeared to flail back dramatically into his seat.
Jokic was hit with a technical foul. The Suns won the game 129-124.
“The fan put the hand on me first,” Jokic said after the game. “I thought the league was supposed to protect us. Maybe I am wrong. I know who he is, but he is a fan. Isn’t he?”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone did not understand why Ishbia got involved.
“(Jokic) is going to get the ball and some fan is holding on to the ball like he wants to be part of the game. Just give the ball up, man,” Malone said.
Ishbia told the Associated Press at halftime he was “fine.” He was back in his seat in the second half.
Jokic scored 53 points in the four-point loss.
Game 5 is on Tuesday night back in Denver. The series is tied 2-2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.