Markieff Morris has long had a reputation as an instigator, a guy who likes to mix it up and stir the pot with hard fouls. That doesn’t justify what transpired at center court during the Miami Heat-Denver Nuggets game.
Nikola Jokic delivered a blind shoulder into Morris’ back with under two minutes to play. The reigning MVP was upset after the Heat big man unnecessarily bumped him first on a flagrant foul. Morris and Jokic were both ejected, but tempers raged at the end of the game due to the nature of Jokic’s cheap shot.
It was a dirty foul and left Morris paralyzed on the ground with a neck injury. He was moving around in the locker room, according to head coach Erik Spoelstra, and further evaluations were scheduled. Markieff’s twin brother, Marcus, carried tensions over to Twitter where Jokic’s brothers – Nemanja and Strahinja – responded in turn. It’s a family affair and everyone was heated.
The Jokic Brothers are a pretty imposing tandem. Meanwhile, Markieff attempted to ease tensions with a more subdued response to the melee and its aftermath. He wrote: “I can take my licks and keep pushing. Joker 1 smooth 0 lol.”
Jimmy Butler also got into the madness and picked up a technical foul for yelling and pointing at Jokic from across the court. The surreal scene resulted in a Flagrant 2 and ejection for Markieff Morris, plus an unsportsmanlike technical foul and ejection for Nikola Jokic. The Heat were down double digits most of the game and lost 113-96.
“This whole thing could have been a whole lot uglier, if Markieff was actually facing Jokic,” Spoelstra said, via Sun-Sentinel. “The fact that he had his back turned and he made a play like that, blindsiding him, that was just a very dangerous play.”
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Twitter Mercilessly Roasts Jimmy Butler
Butler was only a bit player in the Jokic-Morris tragedy but Twitter wasted no time roasting him. The five-time All-Star was seen gently tapping the Nuggets center on the back at midcourt minutes after the ugly hit. He wasn’t screaming at him, nor did he get physical – until he was safely on the sideline.
Butler got vocal from the bench as coaches and teammates restrained him. It looked like he was asking Jokic to meet him out in the parking lot while shouting: “I’m a grown a** man.”
Jokic Apologizes, Facing Suspension
While Jokic believed Morris started the fight, he was wrong to finish it the way he did. The 6-foot-11, 284-pound Serbian is a mountain of a man and clearly can’t throw his body into other players with reckless abandon. He’ll likely receive a suspension and fine from the NBA’s executive office in New York. In the meantime, Jokic offered an apology to Morris for the vicious blow.
“It’s a stupid play, I feel bad,” Jokic said, via CBS Sports. “I’m not supposed to react that way. I got hit. I saw him, but I thought it was just gonna be like a take foul. But he bumped me and I was like, I think it was a dirty play and I just needed to protect myself.”