'Stupid play': MVP suspended over 'dirty' NBA foul controversy

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·Sports Reporter
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Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic has been suspended for one game after shoving Miami Heat player Markieff Morris to the ground earlier in the week. Pictures: Getty Images
Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic has been suspended for one game after shoving Miami Heat player Markieff Morris to the ground earlier in the week. Pictures: Getty Images

The NBA has suspended reigning MVP Nikola Jokic for one game for his shove to the back of the Miami Heat's Markieff Morris on Tuesday.

Jokic was thrown out of the Denver Nuggets' double-digit victory over the Heat late in the fourth quarter, after he charged into Morris' back and knocked him to the ground.

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The Nuggets big man was retaliating after Morris fouled him with somewhat unnecessary force late in the game.

Morris was also ejected for his role in the fracas.

Pictures circulated after the game of Heat players Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo and other reportedly waiting outside the Nuggets' locker room.

Butler, in particular, was attempting to remonstrate with Jokic in the moments after the incident as referees and team staff sought to defuse the situation.

The league announced on Wednesday that Jokic would be banned for one game, as well as fining Morris $50,000 for the flagrant foul which sparked the fight.

Butler was handed a $30,000 fine by the NBA for his attempts to 'escalate the situation', and for his refusal to cooperate with an NBA investigation.

The incident led to Morris' brother and Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus trading threats with Jokic's brothers Strahinja and Nemanja on social media. 

The Nuggets next play the Heat on Nov. 29 in Miami. They'll travel to face the Clippers on Dec. 26.

In the aftermath, Jokic accepted he couldn't react the way he did, but labelled Morris' initial foul a 'dirty' play.

"It's a stupid play," Jokic told reporters. "I feel bad. I am not supposed to react that way."

"I think it was a dirty play," Jokic continued. "And I just needed to protect myself. I felt bad, I am not supposed to react that way, but I need to protect myself."

Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. out for 'foreseeable future' with back injury

The Nuggets had already been dealing with enough bad news prior to the Jokic suspension, with star wing Michael Porter Jr. out indefinitely with a back injury.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said Monday night that Porter is dealing with a back injury he suffered on Saturday against the Houston Rockets, and that he has no idea when he’ll return.

“This is a process where we’re being very cautious, talking to doctors, getting imaging all that kind of stuff," Malone said, via The Athletic.

“Michael could be back in a week. It could be more than that. I don’t know. When I say foreseeable future, I don’t really know what that means. I just know he’s not playing tonight."

Porter came up with a steal in the first quarter of Denver's 95-94 win over the Rockets on Saturday, and had a wide-open lane to the rim.

What should have been an easy dunk turned into what will likely go down as the worst missed layup of the season.

Porter left the game quickly after that miss and he was seen limping and moving slowly. The Nuggets said he was dealing with lower back soreness.

Porter signed a five-year max extension worth up to $207 million with the Nuggets in September. The 23-year-old has struggled since then and has averaged 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 35.9% from the field and 21% from behind the arc.

Though there isn’t a timeline for his return, Porter’s latest back issue isn’t a good sign for a player with such an extensive injury history. He missed nearly all of his one college season at Missouri with a back injury and then missed his entire rookie season because of it.

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