May 9, 2023 - Sports

Mat Ishbia becomes the story after Suns-Nuggets scuffle

Nuggets star Nikola Jokić rushes to retrieve the game ball clutched by Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia during Sunday's playoff game. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty

Three months into owning the Phoenix Suns, Mat Ishbia is already being called out by opposing players.

What happened: A loose ball landed in the hands of the United Wholesale Mortgage CEO during Sunday's playoff game between the Suns and Nuggets.

  • Two-time MVP Nikola Jokić, trailing behind, yanked the ball out of Ishbia's hands as he tried to hold onto it, shoving him with his forearm.
  • Jokić received a technical, while Ishbia and Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, who also put his hands on Jokić, weren't punished.
  • The league announced Monday that it fined Jokić $25,000 for making contact with Ishbia.

What they're saying: "Suspending or fining anyone over last nights incident would not be right," Ishbia tweeted yesterday.

Of note: Jokić (6'11") has more than a foot on Ishbia (5'10") — but the animated flail didn't help as fans wondered if this was the first time an NBA owner flopped.

Yes, but: Ishbia is a former Michigan State walk-on who definitely learned how to take a hit while being coached by Tom Izzo during the team's 2000 championship run.

What's next: The incident adds another wrinkle to the yearslong discussion on how those close to the action interact with players.

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