Nikola Jokic vs. Steve Kerr beef, explained: How Nuggets-Warriors NBA Christmas Day matchup sparked feud

In the greatest reality show on television that is the NBA, feuds are not limited to player vs. player. Even coaches like to get in on the drama sometimes.

Head coach Steve Kerr is the latest example, still appearing to hold the NBA’s Christmas Day officiating between the Warriors and Nuggets against superstar center Nikola Jokic.

Golden State has only played Denver once since the marquee matchup, but Kerr and Jokic had a little spat on the court.

How did this “beef” between Kerr and Jokic begin? The Sporting News takes a closer look below.

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Nikola Jokic vs. Steve Kerr beef, explained

Kerr didn’t necessarily have a direct issue with Jokic, but the two-time MVP caught some strays after the Nuggets win over the Warriors on Christmas Day.

Denver came away with a 120-114 victory over Golden State behind Jokic’s 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Kerr didn’t care for how Jokic got the majority of his points, though.

Jokic went 18-for-18 from the free throw line, getting a favorable whistle (as a former MVP typically does). The Warriors shot 20-for-23 from the free throw line as a team, and Kerr felt the referees were significantly favoring the other side.

When asked about the free throw discrepancy and Jokic’s 18 attempts, in particular, Kerr sounded off on the officiating.

“I have no problem with the officials, themselves. All across the league, we have really good officials,” Kerr began his rant. “I have a problem with the way we are legislating defense out of the game. That’s what we’re doing in the NBA. The way we’re teaching the officials, we’re just enabling players to BS their way to the foul line.

“If I were a fan, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch the second half of that game. It was disgusting,” Kerr continued. “It was just baiting refs into calls, but the refs have to make those calls because that’s how they’re taught.

“I have a real problem with the way we have legislated defense out of the game in this league, and the players are really smart in this league. Over the last decade or so, they’ve gotten smarter and smarter. We have enabled the players and they’re taking full advantage, and it’s just a parade to the free throw line. It’s disgusting to watch,” Kerr stated before sarcastically saying “thank you” and leaving the podium.

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Apparently, 10 days wasn’t enough for Kerr to cool off. When the Nuggets and Warriors faced off again on Jan. 4, Kerr had some words for Jokic.

Jokic attempted to pick up Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski full court, riding him as he brought the ball up the floor. Jokic threw his head back at halfcourt in an attempt to get a foul call, and the action took place right in front of Kerr.

The Warriors head coach didn’t care for Jokic’s flopping, looking the reigning Finals MVP directly in the eye as he voiced his opinion. A lip-reading expert could do better service, but it looks like Kerr said, “Come on. That’s not basketball. No, it’s not. Come on.”

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Jokic would get revenge and the last laugh, banking in a 39-foot heave at the buzzer to lead the Nuggets over the Warriors.

Denver has defeated Golden State in all three meetings this season. It will go for the series sweep on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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