It’s been nearly two weeks since the Miami Heat‘s violent brush up with the Denver Nuggets and while the altercation between Nikola Jokic and Markieff Morris is no longer a headline topic, the incident is still at the forefront of the Heat forward’s mind, or to be more literal, his neck.
Morris was preemptively ruled out for the Heat’s game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, November 20, marking the seventh straight game he’ll be absent due to his lingering injury. At first, Morris was out due to whiplash, but now, the Heat say it’s his neck.
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While many viewers believed the 32-year-old veteran was overacting his pain from Jokic’s blindside hit, Morris was clearly severely hurt.
Immediately following Jokic’s cheap shot on November 8, a stretcher was brought out, as it was unknown whether or not Morris could get himself off the court. Thankfully, Morris was able to exit the game with assistance.
The Jokic/Morris incident caused a split reaction throughout the NBA community. Some believed Morris should’ve seen the hit coming after his foul on Jokic and deserved retaliation, while others stated Jokic’s reaction was inappropriately more violent.
A few days later, the NBA announced that Jokic, 26, would be suspended one game without pay, an estimated $210,417 in lost wages, and Morris would be fined $50,000.
Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler was also hit with a penalty, and handed a $30,000 fine for what the NBA deemed, “attempting to escalate the altercation and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process pertaining to an on-court matter.”
The Nuggets next play at the Heat in Miami at the FTX Arena on November 29.
Fans Are Angry Jokic was Only Suspended 1 Game
The more games that Morris misses, the more grows from Heat fans on Twitter. NBA analysts have also remarked on the lopsided respective aftermath of the incident.
The social media barbs between the Jokic brother and Morris’ twin brother Marcus Morris following the incident only made tempers flare even more.
While it’s hard to defend hitting someone when they’re not looking, many viewers complained that both Morris brothers, Marcuz Morris plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, have a long history of playing too aggressively on the court.
Darko Milicic, one of the greatest draft busts in NBA history, believes Jokic was a “target” because he was foreign to Mozzat Sport.
“What else could Nikola expect when he comes to America, which has hundreds of millions, from a small country that does not have even six million people? He comes, dominates, and bullies them in basketball, becomes the best in the world? Similar to Novak in tennis… Of course, you will bother some people, and you will be their target,” Milicic said.
“It is obvious that they (the Morris brothers) are building their careers on incidents and provocations, as ‘dangerous guys.’ They survive on that basis. But Nikola shouldn’t have allowed himself that because they achieved what they wanted by provocation. Nikola was suspended.”
Heat’s Head Coach & Denver’s Head Coach Disagree on the NBA’s Ruling
During the postgame press after the incident, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of the altercation, “That’s just absolutely uncalled for,” nothing that “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 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.”
Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone, however, agreed with the ref’s decision. I think the flagrant 2 on Morris was the correct call. Watching it from different angles, it was an unnecessary play, a dirty play, however you want to phrase it. Nikola reacted, and I loved what Nikola said. He knows that he can’t react in that manner.”