The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat are just one day away from battling it out in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And while most of the focus has been on this current iteration of these two teams, the mind can’t help but wander back to a heated meeting between Denver and Miami last season. It involved Nikola Jokic getting suspended, Jimmy Butler yelling at Denver’s bench to “bring that s— to the back” and a now infamous picture of Heat players waiting outside Denver’s locker room due to the in-game altercation.
At the time it was a hotly discussed topic, and even included Morris’ brother Marcus Morris and Jokic’s brothers getting into a verbal sparring match on Twitter. However, fast forward to media day ahead of the 2023 NBA Finals, and when asked if there were any lingering feelings about the altercation, Butler was quick to leave that moment in the past.
“I don’t think so. I think there’s a lot of, like, stuff about the whole situation that people don’t understand, and I’ll let that stay back there,” Butler said. “But I don’t think it has too much to do with anything, this thing in the past. It’s high-level competition. But I will say I wasn’t talking to Jokic. That wasn’t my beef. Make sure you write that. The individual who I was talking to definitely knew who I was talking to.”
The situation in question happened last season in November where, with three minutes left in the fourth quarter Heat forward Markieff Morris fouled Jokic at halfcourt that involved Morris shoving his elbow into the two-time MVP. Jokic didn’t take kindly to Morris’ foul, so in response the Serbian big man trucked Morris from behind, leaning in with his shoulder and it sent Morris flying to the ground.
Players and coaches from both teams swarmed on the situation, and as Morris lay on the ground for quite some time, Jokic was immediately ejected from the game. He was later suspended for a game and fined $25,000 for “forcefully shoving” Morris. For essentially starting the situation, Morris was also ejected from the game and was given a $50,000 fine. Butler was also fined $30,000 for “attempting to escalate the altercation.”
While in the moment emotions were running high, it’s obvious that players on both sides aren’t carrying that incident around with them. Even after it initially happened, Jokic said afterwards that he felt bad, and he shouldn’t have reacted that way. It’s still unclear who Butler may be referencing that he was talking to when he was yelling at Denver’s bench, but as he said in his response, this is in the past.
Tensions may flare during the NBA Finals as both teams try to claim that title, but Butler’s made it clear it won’t be because of this situation from last season.