Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected from Wednesday’s 120-118 win over the Detroit Pistons for “two unsportsmanlike fouls,” before the “Greek Freak” gave some fans a unique experience.
During the third period at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, Antetokounmpo drove hard in front of Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, glaring at the opposing center before returning to the defense.
However, the refs deemed the brief outburst of emotion enough to call the two-time MVP his second technical foul of the night, resulting in his ejection from the game. He received the first technical foul in the first period for swearing at the referees.
Surprised by the decision, Antetokounmpo sat courtside in a fan’s seat before being led off the court by his teammates and back to the locker room.
“After the dunk, Giannis turns to his opponent and taunts him and was called a technical foul for taunting, unsportsmanlike,” crew chief Rodney Mott explained to Pool Report after the game. “And he was ejected from the game, according to regulation, because with two unsportsmanlike technical fouls, you are ejected from the game.”
The official rules manual of the National Basketball Association (NBA) states: “If a player openly taunts an opponent, a technical foul is called.
“If a previous unsportsmanlike act has been committed and if this situation is OBVIOUS, a technical foul must be assessed and the guilty player or players must be ejected.”
However, it can be difficult for officials to gauge what is and isn’t taunting in the context of a match and make quick decisions, not least because the definition of “flagrant” is decidedly subjective and what constitutes a taunting foul is a gray area. and prone to change from game to game.
However, the controversial nature of Antetokounmpo’s suspension has sparked debate.
Star point guard Damian Lillard, whom Milwaukee acquired in the offseason from the Portland Trail Blazers, called it a “bad decision,” while first-year coach Adrian Griffin said he was “surprised” by the decision.
The suspension also made headlines given the NBA’s recent commitment to making sure star players are on the court as much as possible.
In September, the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a new Player Involvement Policy in an effort to curb so-called “load management” — the practice of resting star players during the regular season.
It was a “changed approach to reinforce the concept that we are an 82-game league,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at the time.
This, combined with the argument that fans pay to see the best players on the field and want to see emotion and excitement during games, led to criticism of the referees on social media for sending off Antetokounmpo for a short , as it turned out, violation.
Despite the loss of the “Greek Freak”, the Bucks managed to escape with the victory, led by Lillard with 34 points.
Before his suspension, Antetokounmpo contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Editor-translation: Spyros Ampelakis