LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has escaped suspension after his off-court tussle with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia, the NBA announced in a statement on Monday.
Jokic has been fined $25,000 for making “improper contact with a spectactor” during the Nuggets’ game-four defeat to the Suns in Phoenix on Sunday in their Western Conference playoff series.
Jokic clashed with Ishbia as he attempted to grab a loose ball from the Suns owner in the second quarter of Sunday’s game.
As the ball flew back into the crowd, Jokic’s elbow appeared to knock Ishbia backwards.
Jokic, who scored a career-high 53 points in the loss, later defended his actions and said he was only responding because Ishbia made contact with him first.
Ishbia had sought to damp down the controversy earlier Monday by saying he did not want to see the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player hit with a suspension.
“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far! That should be and is the only story,” Ishbia wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Suspending or fining anyone over last night’s incident would not be right.
“I have a lot of respect for Jokic and don’t want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!”
The Suns and top-seeded Nuggets are level at 2-2 in the best-of-seven series, with game five set for Denver on Tuesday