The Denver Nuggets were recently plunged into crisis after their center Nikola Jokic was told that he had to skip one game without pay after an incident involving a player from an opposing team. The incident has caused shockwaves across the basketball world and is likely to have repercussions for a long time to come.
But what will the consequences of this decision be in terms of fixture outcomes? What could happen to the Nuggets as they play their next game? And will Jokic’s status as the NBA’s leading light be placed under threat? This blog post will find the answers.
Before looking at what the long-term and sporting repercussions of this incident might be, it’s important to understand exactly what happened. The Denver Nuggets were playing the Miami Heat on Monday evening when Jokic allegedly pushed the Heat star, Markieff Morris, to the floor. The incident appeared to follow a dispute over play, with Morris accused of committing a Flagrant Foul 2 against the Nuggets star.
Morris, unfortunately, experienced an injury to his neck. He appeared to be able to leave the pitch of his own accord, but he had to stop playing and was carried off on a stretcher. This led to a big fight between the two teams, who each sided with their own player. Jimmy Butler, who plays for the Heat, headed straight to the middle to get involved, and ultimately, the two sides had to rely on staff from each team to break up the incident. The conflict overshadowed the entire game and left fans on both sides angry about the way in which their own players had been perceived to be treated.
What was the reaction?
The immediate punishment for Jokic was an ejection from the court for what was described as unsportsmanlike behavior. The head coach for the Heat, Erik Spoelstra, told the media that he considers the incident to be uncalled for. He also claimed that it could have been a lot worse in the event that the players were facing each other: “And it would have looked a lot different, this whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier if Markieff was actually facing Jokic,” he explained.
In terms of punishment, meanwhile, the NBA has already meted out penalty to Jokic. He was told that he had to avoid playing for one game, and that he would not be paid during his suspension. He carried out this suspension during the match between the Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers earlier this season. In terms of results, though, the Nuggets still managed to pull off a win. They secured a 101 to 98 victory in this game, even without Jokic there. It’s also worth noting that Markieff Morris will also face punishment. He hasn’t been suspended, though – all he’ll need to do is pay a fine. In total, the fine came to $50,000 US dollars – but he will still be able to play.
To some extent, it’s not clear yet what the long-term reaction will be. As many of the operators gathered by the team at sidelines.io show, it seems so far that the Nuggets haven’t dropped out entirely – and that they’re still on course to do well. But only time will tell.
What makes the whole incident more bittersweet for all the participants is that Jokic was actually leading the way in the NBA. At the time of the incident, he was the Most Valuable Player in the whole NBA – and he’d already managed to secure a triple-double this season, despite the fact that he had posted 25 points. He’d also managed to secure 15 rebounds over the course of the season so far. He’ll be able to start playing again now that his suspension is over, but it could also have a knock-on effect for his confidence – and that of his teammates.
In short, it’s too early to tell exactly what the consequences of the decision to eject Jokic will be in the longer term. For now, he’s able to start playing again considering that he has served his sit-out, and he’ll be back in play for the next match. But the experiences of previous players who have fallen foul of the NBA’s rules can just go to show that it can be very dangerous for a player to experience this sort of negative press. Whether this will have a lasting effect on his career, though, remains to be seen.