PHILADELPHIA — In 34 minutes and 16 seconds of play Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Giannis Antetokounmpo did what he normally does — attack the basket. And, he got to the free throw line 15 times. Unfortunately for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, he made just four in a 110-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
After the game, Antetokounmpo took to the field to take some extra free throws in front of the other team and arena employees.
Bally Sports Wisconsin and Bucks play-by-play voice Lisa Byington captured the first part of the routine and posted the video to Twitter.
Montrezl Harrell takes the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo during the post-match free throw session
Antetokounmpo said he made seven consecutive free throws before Philadelphia forward Montrezl Harrell came in and caught the last one that fell through the net. In video obtained by the Journal Sentinel from a source in the building, Harrell then walked to a corner of the field with the ball. Antetokounmpo can be seen talking to Harrell before 76ers player development coach Jason Love steps in front of the Bucks forward as the two players continue to talk.
Antetokounmpo was clearly agitated in the dressing room after the game, and he eventually spoke to reporters.
“Obviously I had a really bad night from the free-throw line,” Antetokounmpo said. “Now I’m proud to improve every day. After the game, I decided to go and try to make some free throws. My objective, every time on the step on the line, is to going 10 in a row and I was shooting free throws, I was at seven I think, a player, I don’t want to name names, and a coach, basically telling me to get off the court.
“While behind me there was another space to do their routine. I respect every player. I know some players are not playing now, they want to get some extra work, want to work on their skills and stuff, and I I said, of course we can shoot together.
“They said, they told me no, this is their court, I should leave. I was like, I still have three free throws, I was at seven, I want to try to make 10 in a row. I shot my eighth. He came to take the ball from me and I was very surprised. I feel like this is very unprofessional. I would never take the ball away from a professional athlete when they are trying to do their job. I feel like we get, luckily or sadly, we get paid to do a job, which is to improve and get on the pitch and do our best and sometimes we have bad nights like today’ today and you kindly want to catch up, do that extra work and hope you can have a better night.
“And I feel like sometimes I think the people who do this business and do what we do should understand that. I understand that if somebody’s not going out there and they want to get in shape, he has extra work, you don’t bother him. So, they took the ball from me and I was very surprised.
Montrezl Harrell tweets about ‘respect’ after incident with Giannis
Harrell later tweeted, “Yeah make sure you get the full story I’m asking the man can he get off the pitch so I can practice they had to change pitch so he ignores me, so hey that’s what you get! Respect is respect! GOOD NIGHT!”
Giannis pushes the ladder to the ground when he returned to shoot free throws
Antetokounmpo said he then left the field to collect two more balls to shoot with.
Upon his return, the arena operations staff had begun their dismantling of the arena – which included placing a ladder in front of the basket.
A person in the arena filmed Antetokounmpo pushing the ladder out of the way of the basket twice, and the second time with enough force for it to fall.
“I said, can you please move the ladder? And they said no,” Antetokounmpo continued. “I said, can you move the ladder? They said no. I was like, guys, I got two more free throws, can you please move the ladder? And they said no. Then I went to push the ladder and I think it snagged on the netting or whatever and fell. And then I went back and finished my routine.
“But at the end of the day, I think everyone knows my character; Not everyone knows that – I think people who know my character – know that I never try to disrespect anyone in the NBA, in my coaching staff, in the within the opposing team. I respect with the best words about any player whenever asked. Or I have never disrespected an opposing coach or technical staff. Or every time I shoot and complete my (pre-game) routine, from my rookie year until now, I always shake hands with all the ballboys and make sure to thank them for the work that I do because I know it’s hard to do their job chasing balls and over and over again and making sure they’re okay. I do this for my ball boys and my ball boys in Milwaukee. They help us when we turn and I try to do that on the road too. I’ve been known for that. I never try to disrespect anyone in any way. I feel like today was just an unfortunate event that happened.
“I think people have not respected the fact that sometimes players want to do extra work. It could be three, five, seven, whatever it is. I think it’s unprofessional to kick someone off the pitch or take the ball or whatever. Or place the ladder in front of someone while they try to do their job. We get paid to do that. They didn’t just choose us. We are paid.
Antetokounmpo was then asked if he was disappointed that there was video of that part of the interaction.
“At the end of the day, people are going to make things look the way they want,” he began. “Did I mean to push the ladder all the way down? I absolutely didn’t. I just tried, I think I pushed it and it got stuck and fell. But people are going to make it look like they want. I know what happened. I think there are cameras all over this courthouse. We can show people the whole incident. who come and get the ball, people who get in front of me. I don’t want to get into all those things.
“I don’t know if I should apologize because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong except the ladder just fell. I feel like that’s my right to work on my skills after a horrible night from the free throw line “I think anyone in my position who had a night like me would go out and work on their free throws. And if they didn’t, they don’t really care about their game.”
As for Harrell, the 76ers forward also fell out with Thanasis Antetokounmpo during that time.
“I don’t think he tried to disrespect me,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said of Harrell. “He wanted to do his job. And I completely understand. It’s just funny to me because I have a basketball court at home and my kids are always going to shoot. And every time it’s 9 p.m., I’ll take the ball from them and say to myself, it’s time for me-me, we’re going to bed. I kinda felt like, you know, I was; I feel like we’re more mature than that.
“We are professional athletes trying to do our job. You can go ask him. I offered him to shoot, let’s shoot together. In the meantime, I don’t understand because there is a basket right behind me. Like s “There was another basket behind me. And, he chose to come and take my ball, put his coach in front of me, and kind of intimidate me away from the field and go into the other basket. Like, I’m not gonna try to fight. I have kids now, I need to save my money.
“But now, if you see that as a lack of respect, it’s your fault. I was like OK, he’s trying to protect his home court, anyway, I’m going to go take another ball. I went to ask for another ball and tried to come and shoot and they put a ladder in front of me because they tried to get me off the field.
The 76ers and Wells Fargo Center have not commented on the involvement of Harrell, Love or arena staff.
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