All the ingredients for a humdinger were present in the Nuggets-Suns match the other day. The stars aligned, and, given the spectacular outings on tap, they likewise shone brightly. And when the battlesmoke cleared, the stat lines projected videogame numbers where every effort mattered until the end. Nikola Jokic had 53 points (on 30 shots) and 11 assists, while Devin Booker once again proved to be a model of efficiency with 36 (off a 14-of-18 clip from the field) and 12. And, not to be outdone, all-time great Kevin Durant likewise had 36 (on 19 stabs at the basket), 11, six, two, and one.

Considering the sheer competitive value of Game Four of the series, it’s too bad that significant attention was provided a courtside incident between Jokic and Suns owner Matt Ishbia. It should have been a footnote to an outstanding contest; instead, it elicited post-mortem discussions that placed the status of the 2021 and 2022 Most Valuable Player awardee in doubt. In the context of the National Basketball Association’s taboos on player-spectator interactions, he was subject to disciplinary action that could include a suspension.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, Jokic escaped with a $25,000 fine “for making improper contact with a spectator sitting courtside.” Had he been meted with a ban, today’s homestand would have been robbed of its potential to mirror its predecessor in terms of lure and allure. Interestingly, Ishbia argued in a tweet that “[s]uspending 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.”

No doubt, Jokic feels vindicated by the development. In the aftermath of Game Four, he contended that “the fan put the hand on me first. 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?” Echoed Nuggets coach Michael Malone, “some fan is holding on to the ball like he wants to be part of the game.” In any case, Ishbia’s right. “Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far! That should be and is the only story.” Enough said.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.