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NBA fines Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic $40K for confrontation with Pacers fan, throwing phone

This is the second known incident this season between a Pacers fan and an opposing player.

For the second time this season, a courtside Pacers fan got into it with an opposing player. First, it was LeBron James in late November and on Sunday afternoon, it was Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who didn’t play and was in street clothes due to left foot plantar fasciitis.

After the Pacers’ 129-98 win over the Blazers, Nurkic walked to center court to slap hands with teammates and then looped around to the sideline opposite the bench.

He approached the young man (Steven Geske), who was wearing a new Lance Stephenson jersey and had a half-full beer in his left hand. Nurkic, at 6-foot-11, said something and then snatched the fan’s phone and threw it a few rows back.

Nurkic said one more thing, then turned the other way and headed to the locker room just as an ESG security member stepped in between.

Jusuf Nurkic says something to the courtside fan. (Photo: @stevengeske)

The NBA, which investigates any incident of this kind, fined Nurkic on Tuesday $40,000 for “confronting a fan courtside and grabbing the fan’s cell phone and throwing it into the spectator stands.”

You just can’t do that.

However, we don’t know for sure what was said throughout the game.

The fan and his friends were filming, so you can see it all unfold in the video above shared by Geske himself. (He’s from Carmel, Ind. and was a goalie on the lacrosse team last season at Quinnipiac University.)

Clearly, he crossed a line and got personal with Nurkic from across the court.

Direct messages sent to Geske on Instagram for clarity on the situation were not returned.

As seen in a different Instagram Story below, Geske’s brother reposted the video and added, “This is how you annoy a player!! Well done little brother”

National reporter Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported what was allegedly said Nurkic’s way. Which, if true, is appalling.

And then Blazers guard Josh Hart, who played 30 minutes that game, weighed in after a fine was handed down by the league.

It’s unclear if he’ll face consequences at The Fieldhouse.

“There’s a difference between cheering on your home faithful, booing opponents and things of that nature, not wanting your opponents to be successful,” James said after the Lakers’ overtime win in Indy in November. “And then there’s moments where it goes outside the line with obscene gestures and words that shouldn’t be tolerated in our game from nobody. I would never say it to a fan and a fan should never say it to a player.”

The Pacers are 25-47 this season and 16-20 in home games at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Stories published at the conclusion of a game — and including updates, interviews and noteworthy observations.
Scott Agness