The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-102, on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 14 rebounds, but continued to struggle at the free throw line, making just 4-of-15 attempts. Giannis is shooting a career-low 58.7 percent from the line this season, so he decided to return to the court to practice his free throws after the game. That's when things got weird.
First, Montrez Harrell, who played five minutes in the Sixers win, came out and took the ball away from Giannis. Coaching staff member Jason Love then stood between the players as Harrell shouted, "This isn’t f—— Milwaukee" and "Get that s— out of there." Love explained to Giannis that he wasn't allowed to shoot after the game.
So Giannis went and got two more balls and came back. Only Sixers staffers put a ladder in front of the basket. Giannis asked them to move it. They wouldn't. So he moved it. They moved it back. Then he shoved it and it fell over.
Now, the staff was trying to remove video equipment from the top of the backboard, but the way they chose direct confrontation with Giannis rather than have a team official speak to Giannis or the Bucks, combined with the actions of Harrell and Love, this sure seems like a coordinated effort to mess with an opponent. Especially considering this was right after the game. There were still fans milling around. Heck, one took the video of Giannis pushing the ladder.
When Kobe Bryant used to do this exact thing, he would be celebrated for having a tremendous work ethic. Even Udonis Haslem, the keeper of Heat Culture, didn't come out and tell Kobe to scram when he did it at American Airlines Arena back in 2011. Because sometimes players shoot after the game. And the Sixers are out there making staff wrestle one of the biggest starts in the league in a ladder match.
Here's Giannis after the incident. Via The Athletic:
“It just funny to me because I have a basketball court at my house and my kids always go and shoot, and whenever it gets to 9 p.m. I go and take the ball from their hands,” Antetokounmpo said. “I feel like we’re more mature than that. We are professional athletes that try to do our job. You can go and ask (Harrell). I offered him to shoot, let’s shoot together. Meanwhile, I don’t understand this because there’s a basket right behind me. There was another basket behind me. And, he chose to come to take my ball, have his coach get in front of me, and kind of bully me away from the court and go to the other basket.“
"I’m not going to try to fight somebody. I have kids now, I gotta save my money. But now, if you guys see that as disrespect, that’s on you.”
These teams don't meet again until March 4th so who knows if there will be any carryover. The game will be broadcast on ABC so there will be plenty of cameras there to see if anyone tries to get in any extra work postgame.