NBA Takes Action: Suspension of 5 Players Following Heated Heat-Pelicans Encounter

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 25: Thomas Bryant #31 of the Miami Heat prepares to shoot a free throw against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter of the game at Kaseya Center on January 25, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

On Sunday, the NBA suspended five players who were part of the altercation in Friday night’s game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat.

Heat center Thomas Bryant and Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado received a three-game suspension for their involvement in a physical altercation and violating league rules by leaving the bench area.

Heat players Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jovic, along with Pelicans forward Naji Marshall, have been suspended for one game.

Butler is facing a reduction of $260,000 in his base salary due to the suspension. The remaining suspensions will result in a combined cost of approximately $115,000 for the four other players.

The altercation took place towards the end of the fourth quarter following a strong foul on Zion Williamson as he attempted a layup. Kevin Love made a valiant effort to stop Williamson.

Williamson fell to the ground with force, prompting a few of his fellow players to quickly check on his well-being, including one who moved Love aside. Butler retaliated with a push, leading to a confrontation with Marshall.

Heat-Pelicans Altercation

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FEBRUARY 23: Naji Marshall #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat are involved in an altercation during the fourth quarter of an NBA game at Smoothie King Center on February 23, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Both players were ejected. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.


During the altercation, Marshall placed his right hand around Butler’s throat, leading to both teams having to intervene and separate them.

Another perspective of the incident seemed to capture Thomas Bryant, who had not entered the game, throwing a punch at Jose Alvarado, leading to another commotion near the scorer’s table.

At that moment, a spectator was observed tossing an item towards the players.

Butler expressed his belief that he should not have been ejected. “I placed my hand around his neck. “He put his hand around my neck,” he mentioned of the incident with Marshall. “And it really gained momentum.”

Alvarado, Butler, Bryant, and Marshall were removed from the game. The Miami Heat emerged victorious with a final score of 106-95.

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