On Sunday, Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were down two to the Washington Wizards with 3:47 left in the game, when Jokic lost it. He and Bobby Portis had been going at it all night, Jokic was frustrated with the calls he was not getting, and in the fourth Jokic wanted a foul call on his putback bucket.
He didn’t get it. He snapped. Jokic got tossed.
A team’s best player cannot lose his composure like that and Nuggets coach Mike Malone let Jokic know that in no uncertain terms. When asked about the conversation Malone described it as “short and direct.”
Notice the theme here: Jokic can’t get tossed, but he was right about the call. It’s Malone sticking up for his guy.
If this were a one-off situation it would be one thing, but Jokic has lost his cool a couple times recently — remember the ejection vs. Indiana — and those ejections have cost his team. In the playoffs, the referees are going to let a lot more stuff go, it’s going to get more physical. You can draw the line of logic here.
Michael Jordan. Shaq. LeBron James. Kobe Bryant. I could keep listing superstar players who had to play through heavy contact and learn to keep their cool, but the point is made. Welcome to being an NBA star, Jokic. Composure is part of it.