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What Did Nikola Jokic Say to the Referee? “Wake Up” Call That Ignited 2X MVP’s and Michael Malone’s Ejection

Published 11/20/2023, 8:31 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Denver Nuggets have slowed down a bit after a red-hot start to the season. They have lost their last two games despite Nikola Jokic’s historic performance and dropped to the 3rd spot in the Western Conference standings. The Nuggets are looking to end their two-game losing streak tonight as they face the Detroit Pistons. But Nikola Jokic and Co. got into big trouble early in the game as their head coach, Michael Malone, and The Joker got tossed out of the game in the first half.

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Find out what Nikola Jokic said to the referee that eventually led to Michael Malone and the 2-time MVP’s early ejection from the Nuggets-Pistons game.

Nikola Jokic’s words that led to a double ejection


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Nikola Jokic and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone were ejected from tonight’s game against the Pistons in the first half. It all started when The Joker called out the referees and clapped at them, yelling, “Wake Up” early in the first quarter. Jokic got his first technical for showing frustration about the game’s officiating. Later in that same quarter, Michael Malone got tossed from the game as he got T’d up twice in the same play for charging toward the referee immediately after his first technical foul.

Jokic soon followed suit and got ejected after picking up his second technical foul in the second quarter. The 2-time MVP got heated at the referees for not calling a foul on the Pistons during a double team. He got thrown out of the game after playing just 15 minutes and scoring 9 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.


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It will be difficult for the Nuggets to break their losing streak without the leadership of their head coach and the best player.

Is bad officiating leading to unnecessary ejections?

The NBA is facing a severe problem with its officials and the players. Many superstars and fans have expressed their frustrations about inconsistent officiating by the referees and unnecessary technical fouls. This year, we have seen Giannis Antetokounmpo getting ejected for expressing his emotions after a dunk, Victor Wembanyama getting a technical foul for bouncing the ball too high, and now Jokic getting ejected for voicing his opinion about the officiating.


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Not only that, Paul George was also fined $35,000 for criticizing the referees at a post-game press conference. This sets a dangerous precedent, as it shows that the league thinks referees are above criticism and can do no wrong. Despite multiple protests from players about the quality of refereeing, it seems the league has taken no steps to change it.

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Fans pay good money to watch the best players in the world perform on a nightly basis. But many a time, they are deprived of that opportunity because of the officials’ decisions. Understandably, the league is trying to prevent bigger altercations like the Malice at the Palace or even the Draymond Green-Rudy Gobert incident a few days ago. But ejecting a player for merely expressing their emotion might lead to the fans eventually tuning out due to a lack of interest. The NBA needs to find the right balance and take care of this situation, as it has been haunting them for years.


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Do you think the refereeing is inconsistent? Or are the officials justified in giving technical fouls when players show excess emotion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by:

Rohan Bhaunt


One take at a time

Rohan is an NBA Content Writer at EssentiallySports. He is a state-level basketball player and has been a fan of the NBA for over a decade. This allows him to deep dive into the sport and provide a fresh outlook.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe