Absolutely nothing went right for the Miami Heat as they took on the Denver Nuggets on Monday Night. While the lopsided 113-96 loss is a painful final score, the final three minutes of the game hurt way more, especially for Heat forward Markieff Morris.
With just two minutes and 39 seconds left in the game, during which Denver was already up 111-94, Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, who’s 6-foot-11 and 284 pounds, approached Morris and violently pushed his shoulder into the Heat player while his opponent’s back was turned.
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A stretcher was brought out, as it was unknown whether or not Morris, 32, could get himself off the court, but thankfully he was able to walk off into the locker room.
There’s no contesting that Jokic’s shove was a Flagrant 2, or that it was an excessive response to Morris’ foul on the reigning NBA MVP, however, New York Post’s NBA writer, Marc Berman saw the video of the incident and tweeted that the Heat veteran “deserved it.”
Berman, who’s a beat reporter for the New York Knicks, replied to Hoop Central’s tweet to say, “If anyone deserved it, a Morris brother deserved it. Hope NBA realizes the intentional dirtiness of initial Morris foul.”
Numerous Twitter users called Berman out for his tweet, “@nypost is this your employee?” one person tweeted, while another person commented, “no one DESERVES to go out on a stretcher.” The backlash quickly piled up, and Berman subsequently deleted his tweet.
The Morris Brothers are No Angels, But No One Deserves Possible Paralyzation From a Cheap Shot
While Morris and his brother, Marcus Morris, the latter of whom plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, are incredibly aggressive players, despite Berman’s comment, no one deserves to end up paralyzed from an opponent’s cheap shot.
After seeing the incident, Marcus Morris tweeted, “Waited till bro turned his back smh. NOTED ✍🏾.”
On Tuesday, the Heat veteran joined the Twitter conversation. “I love to see the hate! No doubt I took a hard foul which I always do but I’ve never hit a man with his back turned!” Morris tweeted. “Luckily we built different over here. I can take my licks and keep pushing. Joker 1 smooth 0 lol.”
While Jokic, 26, said after the game, “I felt bad for real,” he said. “Someone showed me the clip and I saw his head snap back. I feel really bad. It was a reaction. It’s a bad move.” However, his brothers had a starkly different reaction.
The Jokic brothers tweeted directly to Morris’ brother, “@MookMorris2 You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother! Your brother made a dirty play first. If you want to make a step further be sure we will be waiting for you !! Jokic Brothers>”
Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra Doesn’t Believe Morris’ Foul was a Flagrant 2
During the post-game press conference, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gave an update on Morris. “He’s moving around right now,” Spoelstra said. “But we’ll do the necessary tests, whatever we need to do just to make sure that he’s OK.”
“That’s just absolutely uncalled for,” Spoelstra said of Jokic’s push. “And it would have looked a lot different, this whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier, if Markieff was actually facing Jokic. The fact that he had his back turned and he made a play like that, blindsiding him, that was just a very dangerous play.”
Spoelstra was the only person from the Heat to speak to the media afterward, as the entirety of the Heat’s roster skipped the postgame conference.
Spoelstra also doesn’t believe Morris’ foul was a Flagrant 2. “I thought ‘Kief took a foul and it was one of those fast-break take fouls. And he did it with his shoulder. You might deem that maybe as a little bit more than just the slapping stuff,” Spoelstra said per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. Right after I watched it on film, it was a take foul. That’s how I saw it.”
Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman explained the ref’s decision. “Referee Kevin Scott of Morris Flagrant 2 foul, ‘Upon video review a Flagrant Foul penalty 2 was assessed. The contact by Morris was interpreted to be excessive and unnecessary based on the following criteria,'” Winderman tweeted.
“One, the severity of the contact. Two, whether or not the player was making a legitimate basketball play. Three, the potential for injury resulting from the contact and four, the outcome of the contact led to an altercation.”