NBA analyst and fans alike claim that LeBron James and Kevin Durant would have never received a Flagrant 2 foul for what Nikola Jokic did.
Nikola Jokic has had a bittersweet ending to his 2020-21 NBA campaign. After having gotten to the second round by dismantling the Blazers frontcourt, the ‘Joker’ has now been swept by the Phoenix Suns after incredible performances from both Devin Booker and Chris Paul. To temper the pain of getting swept before the WCF however, is the fact that he won his first league MVP.
The ending to his season came before his teammates’, unfortunately, as he was ejected from Game 4 after he fouled Cameron Payne out of frustration due to a no-call on a floater he missed late in the 3rd. This led to an immediate Flagrant 2 being called on him after his foul incited a face off between Devin Booker and Jokic.
Nikola Jokic has been ejected pic.twitter.com/7Dm9JmqWKP
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 14, 2021
This led to an uproar from fans online as they claimed Nikola Jokic was unfairly ‘disposed’ of in a win-or-go-home Game 4. Another NBA analyst went a step further and said other superstars would’ve received preferential treatment.
Tomer Azarly says Nikola Jokic wouldn’t have gotten ejected if he was LeBron James or Kevin Durant
It’s no surprise that certain superstars within the league have more pull than others when it comes to being on the fruitful end of foul calls. Clippers beat writer, Tomer Azarly claims if LeBron James or Kevin Durant had done what Nikola Jokic did, they would not have even sniffed a Flagrant 2 foul in that particular situation.
You think they’re ejecting Bron, Steph, or KD if they did that? Nah? Flagrant 1 and play on. https://t.co/aTa3ky1nub
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 14, 2021
Azarly does have a point here. Despite being the reigning league MVP, the Serbian center does not have a LeBron-esque rapport with the refs as of yet, leading many to believe there is a double standard in the NBA. However, regardless of what kind of ‘pull’ Jokic has on the refs, that shouldn’t have been a Flagrant 2.
In February, yes, that could be considered an ejection for excessive force. In June however, refs need to understand that letting players play is the best option.
Jokic’s swipe, while excessively forceful and poorly executed, was an attempt at Payne’s hands. He never intended to connect with Payne’s nose with mal-intent.
Ejecting Nikola Jokic robbed the Nuggets of having a sliver of chance in trying to steal a couple away from Phoenix.