Nuggets star Nikola Jokic suspended for leaving bench during altercation


As Mason Plumlee and Derrick Favors scuffled during the Jazz’s win over the Nuggets on Wednesday, Nikola Jokic left Denver’s bench and headed toward the fight.

The NBA’s rule on this is clear: Players who leave the bench during an altercation get suspended one game. The Nuggets tried to sway the narrative, but this was a clear violation.

NBA release:

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has been suspended one game without pay for violating the league’s rule against leaving the bench during an altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. Jokić’s close proximity to the altercation and aggressive manner created the potential for further escalation of the situation.

As part of the same incident, Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee has been fined $25,000 and Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors has been fined $15,000 for engaging in an altercation.

The incident, for which Plumlee and Favors each received a technical foul and were ejected, occurred with 2:46 remaining in the first quarter of Utah’s 114-108 victory over Denver on Jan. 23


Jokić will serve his suspension tonight when the Nuggets play host to the Phoenix Suns

Really, the Nuggets are fortunate Gary Harris and Jamal Murray weren’t also suspended. Those starting guards weren’t far behind Jokic in coming off the bench. Maybe Denver’s politicking worked.

The rule is harsh, but it’s a good one. Fights tend to escalate when more people are involved. Even a player intervening as a peacemaker can easily get mistaken for a instigator in the heat of the moment. The best way to prevent altercations from building is preventing more people from involving themselves, even if well-intentioned players sometimes get suspended.

And it sure didn’t look like Jokic was heading toward the fray as a peacemaker. He looked ready to get scrap. It’s hard to see this situation as an undesirable consequence of the rule.

At least the Nuggets will lose Jokic against only the lowly Suns – and will have Harris and Murray for that game.