On May 5, 2021, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic received a $25,000 fine from the NBA for “making an unsportsmanlike contact with an official” during a game against the Phoenix Suns. However, it was not Jokic’s contact with an official that drew the most attention, but rather his postgame interaction with Suns owner Robert Sarver.

After the Nuggets lost the game to the Suns, Jokic made his way over to Sarver and appeared to say something to him before shaking his hand. The moment was caught on camera and quickly went viral, leading many to speculate about what was said and whether Jokic had crossed a line.

The NBA, for its part, took the incident seriously and decided to levy a fine against Jokic. In a statement, the league said that Jokic’s “unsportsmanlike contact” with an official had been “detrimental to the game,” but made no mention of his interaction with Sarver.

Jokic was simply showing respect to Sarver,

So, why did Jokic feel the need to speak with the Suns owner in the first place? Some have speculated that he was trying to apologize for his earlier contact with an official, or perhaps to express frustration with the way the game had been called. Others have suggested that Jokic was simply showing respect to Sarver, who is known for being a hands-on owner and a vocal supporter of his team.

Regardless of Jokic’s motives, the incident has raised questions about the appropriate boundaries between players and team owners. In a league where players are often at odds with management over issues like salaries and playing time, it’s not uncommon for tensions to run high. But should players be able to approach owners directly after a game, and if so, under what circumstances?

One argument in favor of allowing players to speak with owners is that it can help foster positive relationships and promote transparency. If players feel like they can approach owners directly, they may be more likely to share their concerns and work collaboratively to address issues that arise. This could lead to a more harmonious and productive team environment, which could ultimately benefit everyone involved.

However, there are also concerns about the power dynamic between players and owners, and whether players may feel pressured to curry favor with owners in order to secure playing time or other benefits. Additionally, allowing players to approach owners directly could potentially create an uneven playing field, with some players having greater access to management than others.

Ultimately, the Jokic incident raises more questions than it answers, and it’s unclear what impact it will have on the league moving forward. However, it does serve as a reminder that players, owners, and league officials must all work together to maintain a healthy and productive NBA environment. Whether that means setting clearer boundaries around player-owner interactions, or simply encouraging open communication and respect among all parties, remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: the incident has sparked a conversation that will continue to be debated for some time to come.