The Chicago Bulls wisely decided to celebrate Serbian Heritage Night on Tuesday when the Denver Nuggets and two-time MVP Nikola Jokić were in town.
The referees were not overly concerned about sending the crowd home happy.
The defending champion Nuggets led the Bulls 54-47 with a little over a minute to play in the first half when Jokić, upset with the lack of a call after a drive to the hoop, let one of the referees know his displeasure (allegedly saying “call the foul, mother******.” After the ensuing play ended, the refs blew the whistle, assessed him with a technical foul, and then ejected the Serbian superstar from the game.
You could imagine the reaction had this happened in Denver, but even here in Chicago, everyone was furious with the overblown reaction. The Chicago crowd showered boos on the referees. Even the Bulls announcers, Adam Amin and Stacey King, were incensed.
Nikola Jokic is immediately ejected from the Bulls-Nuggets for arguing a no-call and even Bulls announcers Adam Amin and Stacey King are in disbelief.
“The people didn’t come to see the officials, let’s be honest, they came to see the players.”
It’s Serbian Heritage Night in… pic.twitter.com/w8ejIp4AMX
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 13, 2023
“I saw the official point as if he was ejecting Jokić from the game,” said Amin. “That can’t be right, can it? Did he get ejected from the game?”
“That’s terrible,” said King.
“That doesn’t seem fair at all,” added Amin.
“Give the guy a tech. He shoulda got a foul. But to eject the guy, c’mon now,” said King. “The people didn’t come to see the officials. Let’s be honest, they came to see the players. He’s one of the players they came to see. Give him a tech, he earned that. He’s a two-time MVP. He earned the right to be able to communicate.”
On the replay, King even noted that Jokić “may have had a point” on the lack of a foul call.
— Stacey King (@Stacey21King) December 13, 2023
It’s exceedingly rare to hear the announcers for the opposing team admonish the referees for kicking a team’s best player out of the game. But it says something about the way so many fans, and announcers, are fed up with inconsistent and unaccountable referees, that seemingly no one involved in this game wanted to see this go down the way it did.
It’s especially a bummer for all of the people who specifically came to support Jokic on his only visit to the United Center this season.
[AA on Twitter, NBC Sports Chicago]