NUGGETS

Refs lack explanation for Jokic ejection, NBA should be embarrassed

Dec 13, 2023, 12:17 AM | Updated: 12:27 am

Denver Nuggets fans know what they’re going to chant next time NBA official Mousa Dagher works in the Mile High City.

The thin-skinned fifth-year referee ejected Nikola Jokic late in the second quarter of the Nuggets 114-106 win against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night. The two-time league MVP was given a quick boot on his first technical after yelling something at Dagher. The Denver Post reports Jokic called the referee a, “mother******”

Referee Mark Lindsay talked to a pool reporter after the game and said, “To be clear, Jokic was ejected after one technical foul because he directed profane language at the official that by our standards warranted an ejection.”

“To be clear, Jokic was ejected after one technical foul,” Lindsay said and followed by saying the same thing when questioned for the third time. “We don’t typically publicly get into exactly what a player said, but the language reached the standard for an ejection.”

It’s the second time in three weeks that Jokic has been ejected in the first half of a game for talking to an official.

Two-time All-Star Bulls center and Swiss-born with a Serbian mother Nikola Vučević said, “The ejection to me seemed excessive. Sure, the tech, whatever. But I think the ejection was a little bit too much for what happened.” Vuč joked that Joker should’ve expressed his anger in his native Serbian tongue

“It is what it is. Some guys can say whatever. I think sometimes what I said is not even technical, so it is what it is.” Jokic said. “I crossed the line. I understand. But sometimes that word doesn’t cross the line.”

Jokic clearly did not want to get fined by the league so he did not say much more about the ejection. He did quip that it would have been funny to see the referee kick him out in Serbia in front of his people rather than in front of the large Serbian population that was in Chicago on Tuesday who paid a high price for their lone shot at seeing the big man.

League commissioner Adam Silver has of course made new policies that attempt to prevent players from resting in these one-off location games so fans around the NBA can see its best players. Silver has also partnered with sports gambling companies which in itself puts some questions about credibility into the game let alone the fact that bets can be won and lost on a single word and a quick whistle like they were in the Windy City on Tuesday.

Michael Malone and Jokic’s stunt in Detirot to try to draw attention to the way the Nuggets were being unfairly officiated seemed to not do anything. Since then, Jokic has been given a soft fine for flopping and has been kicked out of yet another game. Meanwhile, his free throw attempts per game are slightly down since the first incident at 6.3, which pales in comparison to other stars. Joker is currently 19th in the league in foul line shots a game, between Donovan Mitchell and Paolo Banchero. At the same time, Jokic is shooting the fifth-most shots per contest and does so mostly near the rim. Comparing the former MVP to fellow MVP big men Giannis Antetokounmpo, who gets 10.4 a contest, or last year’s MVP Joel Embiid, who is shooting nearly 12 free throw attempts a game explains a big part of Jokic’s anger.

The Nuggets as a team follow behind Jokic, shooting 20.6 shots a game from the line which is 27th in the league. Denver, the reigning champs, are the only team in the top four of either conference shooting less than 22 times a game from the charity stripe.

Malone didn’t go nearly as hard as he could or should have about the second ejection of the reigning Finals MVP. The coach did take some blame as well though.

“Maybe I have to do a better job, to be honest,” Malone said. “Because if he’s getting fouled or he thinks he’s getting fouled, let me take the tech. That’s my job as a head coach. … I don’t want him being put in that position where he’s getting thrown out.”

But more memorably the New York-raised head coach while admitting he didn’t understand the decision by the referee hid behind the joke of calling what Jokic said, “a term of endearment in my house.”

Memorably LeBron James threw a fit, pounding on the court after a missed call last season. The NBA Referees’ social media account apologized for the “gut-wrenching mistake.” The four-time MVP of course was not thrown out of that game for showing up the officials. And on the same night of another Jokic ejection, league star Draymond Green has punched yet another person in the face, obviously warranting an ejection. What Jokic did on Tuesday doesn’t rise to either level and the center is justified in not understanding the league standard for an ejection because there isn’t one—not for the common player or for the stars.

Since Jokic’s true star turn one could argue calls have gotten even worse against him. In fact, data put together in February shows that no team since 2015 has lost out on more calls in the last two minutes of games than the Nuggets.

For the umpires to lack a standard in both ejections and what is even a shooting foul shows the NBA has an extreme problem when it comes to their officials. The referee’s egos is just the cherry on top.

But don’t worry here’s a video of Dagher trying to explain how the league holds him accountable, maybe he’ll get fined for his atrocious blunder and lack of explanation.

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