MIAMI – After Denver's Nikola Jokic and Miami's Markieff Morris hit one another, the NBA hit back.
And the reigning MVP took the worst of that.
Jokic has been suspended one game for shoving Morris in the back, the league announced Tuesday night. That means Jokic won't play on Wednesday when the Nuggets host Indiana.
Morris won't be playing on Wednesday, either: The Heat said he has a neck injury, diagnosed as whiplash, and has been ruled out from Miami's matchup at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Morris was fined $50,000 for his role in the mess, and Heat forward Jimmy Butler drew a $30,000 fine “for attempting to escalate the altercation and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process pertaining to an on-court matter," the league said.
The NBA's decision was the last salvo in a wild day following Monday night's scuffle in Denver, one that prompted the brothers of the two players who had the starring roles in the dustup to take their anger to Twitter.
“It’s a situation that I think we’ll all learn from, not allowing emotions to get the best of us,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Tuesday, a few hours before the decision by NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell was announced.
Emotions were clearly not under control Monday night.
It all started late in the Denver-Miami game, shortly after the Heat ire was raised when no call was made after they thought Jokic fouled Bam Adebayo. Morris stopped play a few seconds later by intentionally crashing into Jokic from the side, a foul that referees called flagrant.
Jokic then blindsided Morris with a hard shove from behind. Heat players were livid at what they perceived to be a cheap shot from Jokic, and so was Marcus Morris — Markieff Morris’ twin and fellow NBA player.
“A stupid play," Jokic conceded. “I feel bad."
It all adds up to an ugly mess for the NBA, which surely wasn’t thrilled by either foul or any of the shenanigans that followed, including a scene captured in a photo from the Denver Post that showed Heat players lined up outside their locker room postgame, not far from the Denver locker room. The newspaper reported that Butler “yelled down the hallway, telling Nuggets players they know where Miami’s bus was parked.”
And then it became a family affair.
“Waited till bro turned his back smh. NOTED,” Marcus Morris tweeted.
Jokic has two older brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja Jokic. They got attention during last season’s playoffs when matters between Jokic and Phoenix’s Devin Booker got heated; Jokic wound up getting ejected and his brothers had to be held back in the stands.
They joined Twitter on Tuesday, and their first tweet was directed at Marcus Morris.
“You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother!Your brother made a dirty play first . If you want to make a step further be sure we will be waiting for you !! Jokic Brothers,” they tweeted.
The tweet went viral right away, and a few hours later Marcus Morris returned to Twitter — apparently after getting a talking-to from his mother, Angel Morris.
“Momma said don’t talk on social media no more! Well There you have it. I love you momma,” Marcus Morris wrote.
That vow of Twitter silence lasted all of 47 minutes.
Marcus Morris, responding to a tweet from former NFL standout and current television commentator Shannon Sharpe defending Jokic, quickly returned to social media and told Sharpe to “shut ... up.”
Predictably, each side saw dirtiness in the play through its own prism.
“That was a very dangerous, dirty play,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Jokic’s hit.
“Dirty foul,” was Malone’s assessment of Markieff Morris’ play.
Denver visits Miami on Nov. 29. The Nuggets don’t face the Clippers, Marcus Morris’ team, again until Dec. 26.
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