“Rigged league”: NBA community criticizes refs following Nuggets HC Michael Malone and Nikola Jokic’s ejection against Pistons

Nikola Jokic and the reigning champion Denver Nuggets appeared unbeatable with an 8-1 start to the season, but challenges increased with Jamal Murray’s absence. They recently experienced a tougher stretch, entering Monday on a two-game losing streak and losing three of their last four games.

Despite this, a road trip against the struggling 2-12 Detroit Pistons, who were on an 11-game losing streak, appeared to be an ideal chance to bounce back. However, the ideal chance came but with some bad officiating which made the fans furious.

Nikola Jokic and Michael Malone get ejected

The Denver Nugget needed to get back to winning ways after a series of defeats, but it was as if it would be a lost opportunity after the referees’ decision in the first half.  In the first half, Nuggets coach Michael Malone expressed dissatisfaction with the officials after two Isaiah Livers free throws and complained assertively. He seemed to anticipate ejection as he promptly walked off the court.

NBA community criticizes refs after  HC Michael Malone and Nikola Jokic's ejection against Pistons
Nikola Jokic Via Getty

Nikola Jokic, who hadn’t attempted a free throw in 15 minutes of play, believed he was fouled by the Pistons. When he voiced his complaint to the officials, he, too, was ejected from the game. The Nuggets have frequently voiced concerns about how Jokic is officiated in recent seasons.

Despite averaging 28.8 points per game this season, Nikola Jokic is only getting 6.2 free throw attempts per game. In Denver’s last two losses, he reached the line only 10 times combined. After the frustrations in the early part of this game, Jokic had evidently had enough.

The game was tied when Jokic got ejected, and surprisingly, one could argue that his absence had a positive impact. The Nuggets ended up winning 107-103, overcoming the lack of Jokic, Murray, or Malone. This could serve as a confidence boost for a bench that has faced criticism for years.

NBA fans mock referees

Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Klay Thompson, etc., have been ejected from games in an unfashionable manner. Recently, both coach Michael Malone and Jokic were ejected in the first half of the game against the Detroit Pistons. However, the decision to eject the coach and the player has been questioned by most fans who feel the refs seem to be inaccurate in their decisions.

Let us get to know what the fans are saying about the refs’ decision to eject coach Malone and Jokic. Some fans believe the league is corrupt, this is because of some bad officiating they’ve witnessed this season, “rigged league”.

Most referees make officiating look like an opportunity to show power. “Refs think it’s their show”

Some fans express their displeasure over this season’s officiating, calling the refs to allow players to be passionate about the game.

Despite an early ejection of coach Malone and Nikola Jokic from the matchup against Detroit. There were some positives as the bench players stepped up their games to ensure the team managed to defeat Detroit. However, the fans will hope to see a fair officiating in subsequent games especially involving the Nuggets.

Shariare Hasib

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Shariare Hasib is an NBA Editor at SportsKnot. With a master's degree in journalism from a prestigious university, Shariare started writing about the sport during his undergraduate years. Since then, he has been fascinated by LeBron James' lasting impact as well as Stephen Curry's incredible consistency. He specializes in live basketball coverage. Apart from reporting on trade speculations and match updates during off-season activities, Shariare frequently interacts with fan communities to stay abreast of the constantly evolving NBA scene.


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