Ben Rohrbach | Yahoo Sports
Following Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic’s ejection and his team’s subsequent loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a fan at the Pepsi Center “berated” referee James Capers, who is black, and called him “racist,” per the Denver Post.
The incident reportedly occurred as the officiating crew departed the court after the buzzer sounded on Washington’s 95-90 victory. According to the Denver Post’s Mike Singer, the fan was “admonished” and “escorted from his seat” by arena staff.
A Nuggets spokesperson told BSN Denver’s Harrison Wind that the team conducted interviews with security and fans in the vicinity before determining that the fan in question did not spew a racial slur at Capers. According to Wind, the team referred the incident to the league office, which is investigating it further.
The incident follows news of fan suspensions related to alleged racist behavior toward players in Utah and Boston. Requests for comment from the Nuggets and the National Basketball Referees Association regarding pending disciplinary action — or lack thereof — were not immediately returned to Yahoo Sports on Monday.
The Jazz permanently banned two fans for “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse” of Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. The former NBA MVP said a Jazz fan told him to “get on your knees like you used to” during a game in Utah last month, which Westbrook interpreted as “completely disrespectful” and “racial.” A second fan repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” during the 2018 playoffs.
Last week, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported news that the Celtics had suspended a spectator two years after Golden State Warriors star DeMarcus Cousins accused the fan of calling him a racial slur during a January game in Boston. Following an investigation into the incident, the Celtics found inconclusive evidence to support the allegations that the fan had mouthed the slur at Cousins, and the team issued a two-year suspension rather than a lifetime ban as a result.
If you need evidence regarding the lunacy of the fan’s suggestion that Sunday’s ejection was racially motivated, just listen to Jokic’s explanation following the loss.
“I said to James, ‘He slapped me with two hands on my head,’” Jokic relayed to reporters after the game, according to The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider. “I don’t know if I sweared or something, but he gave me a technical. Then he said, ‘Do you want another one?’ I said, ‘I don’t care.’ And he gave me another one.”
Jokic earned his ejection with 3:47 remaining and the game tied 88-88. It marked Jokic’s second ejection in 15 days, and this one led to Denver dropping a game behind Golden State for the Western Conference’s No. 1 overall seed.
“He can’t get tossed,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone added. “I don’t care what they do to him. I don’t care how bad the refereeing is, foul call or no foul call, doesn’t matter. He’s too valuable for our team. It’s the second time it’s happened.”