Nikola Jokic’s MVP season is over after getting ejected for striking Cameron Payne in Game 4 of the Denver Nuggets’ Western Conference semifinals series against the Phoenix Suns. With the Suns holding a seven-point lead late the third quarter, Jokic swiped at the ball and hit Payne in the face. After a review, the refs determined it was a flagrant-2 foul, which earned Jokic an ejection.
The Suns won, 125-118, to advance to the conference finals and end Denver’s season. Phoenix entered the night with a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. This is how Jokic’s incredible season ends. Here’s video of the incident.
Jokic was given a flagrant-2 foul, which includes an ejection, because there was a windup, excessive contact to the head, and a follow through. Jokic’s foul came out of frustration because he thought he was fouled on the previous possession and didn’t get the call.
Jokic had 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists on 9-of-17 shooting at the time of the ejection.
NBA fans were split on whether Jokic deserved the flagrant-2 and subsequent ejection.
That simply can't happen.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 14, 2021
If that's a Flagrant 2, then I've seen Flagrant 35's this season (and called Flagrant 1's).
He wound up, yes. He hit him in the face, yes.
He also got ball.
And if the intent there was to hit in the face, he'd have done a lot more.
I’d like to see Nikola Jokic on the court here, but I can’t argue with him being ejected. There was absolutely no reason for him to wind up like that. If he was just a fraction of an inch differently could’ve been very bad for Cameron Payne.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 14, 2021
My timeline is absolutely split between “That was absolutely an ejection, it was basically a war crime, what are we talking bout” and “They ejected him for THAT?”— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 14, 2021
I don’t think it matters, either way.
They really just kicked this man out the game…!? Wow? #Jokic— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) June 14, 2021
I regret to inform you that my timeline is extremely split on whether or not that Jokić ejection was warranted.— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) June 14, 2021
Whether or not you thought Jokic deserved a flagrant-2, it’s certainly a terrible way for an MVP season to end. The Nuggets just couldn’t catch a break at the end of this season, from Jamal Murray’s ACL tear to injuries to Will Barton and P.J. Dozier. Now Jokic didn’t even get a chance to save his team’s season in their final game.