DENVER — Nikola Jokic and Mat Ishbia had another courtside encounter before Tuesday night’s Game 5 — but this time it was the Denver Nuggets star handing a basketball over to the Phoenix Suns‘ owner with a friendly handshake and a warm embrace.
As Jokic walked off the floor following his pregame warmup, he made his way over to where Ishbia was sitting courtside. Jokic held a basketball out before playfully tossing it to Ishbia. The two shook hands and Jokic embraced Ishbia, patting him on the back.
On Monday, Jokic was fined $25,000 for his slight push of the Suns’ owner in Sunday’s Game 4 while trying to retrieve the ball in the crowd. Jokic was assessed a technical foul during the game for “deliberately” shoving Ishbia, according to crew chief Tony Brothers.
Jokic explained after the Suns’ Game 4 win that Ishbia held the basketball when Jokic was trying to do what he often does: grab the ball and try to inbound it quickly in hopes of a Nuggets advantage. Jokic also said Ishbia put his hands on him first, which led to Jokic’s nudge back.
Ishbia, for his part, tweeted Monday that he didn’t want to see Jokic disciplined for his role in the incident, writing, “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.”
“I mean it’s old news now,” Denver coach Michael Malone said before Game 5, when asked about Jokic being fined $25,000.
Speaking with TNT’s “Inside the NBA” after Denver’s 118-102 victory, Jokic gave an overview of the pregame moment with Ishbia, before offering with a laugh, “I was hoping he was gonna pay my fine, but no.”