It all started because Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 4-of-15 from the free throw line in the Bucks 110-102 loss to the 76ers Friday night in Philadelphia.
After the game ended and players had gone back to the locker room, a frustrated Antetokounmpo came back onto the court to practice shooting free throws. It’s not uncommon for some players to workout a little on the court after the game, although usually it is members of the home team.
That’s when things got weird, as described by Joe Varden at The Athletic.
While the Greek Freak worked on his free throw form — he often in warmups wants to hit 10 free throws in a row before he stops — Sixers reserve big man Montrezl Harrell came back out to get his own workout in with Philadelphia coaching staff member Jason Love. Antetokounmpo and Harrell had a verbal altercation.
Harrell grabbed the ball away after one free throw, and at that point Love said Antetokounmpo could not practice in the arena.
Video of Montrezl Harrell taking the ball away while Giannis Antetokounmpo was shooting free throws after the game:
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 19, 2022
“This isn’t f****** Milwaukee,” Harrell barked at Antetokounmpo, as witnessed by The Athletic. “Get that s*** out of there.”
Harrell defended his action saying he had asked for the court to work out and Antetokounmpo would not step aside.
Aye make sure you get the complete story I ask the man can he get off the court so I can workout they had to change the court over he ignore me so hey that’s what you get! Respect is respect! GOODNIGHT!
— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) November 19, 2022
Antetokounmpo’s response to Harrell taking his ball? He went back and got two basketballs so he could continue shooting.
Except while Antetokounmpo was off the court, a Wells Fargo Arena worker had moved a ladder near the basket as part of his work preparing the building for the next event. Antetokounmpo walked over and moved the ladder so he could continue shooting, then the employee moved it back, as video of the incident shows. The two had a few heated words, then at that point Antetokounmpo shoved the ladder to move it again and knocked it to the ground.
— Dennis Moore (@dem389) November 19, 2022
Harrell reportedly yelled at Antetokounmpo telling him not to disrespect the arena worker.
Antetokounmpo explained his side later, as relayed by Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“I respect every player,” Antetokounmpo said. “I know some players don’t play now, they want to get some extra work, want to work on their skills and stuff, and I said, obviously we can shoot together. They said, they told me no, this is their court, I should leave. I was like, I have three more free throws, I was at seven, I want to try to make 10 in a row. I shot my eighth one. Came and took the ball away from me and I was very surprised. I feel like it’s very unprofessional. I would never take the ball away from a professional athlete when he’s trying to do his job…
“I went back out there to shoot and there was a ladder in front of me,” Antetokounmpo said. “And I said, ‘Can you please move the ladder? And they said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Can you guys please move the ladder?’ They said, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘Guys, I have two more free throws, can you please move the ladder?’ And they said, ‘No.'”
Antetokounmpo said he didn’t mean to push over the ladder, he was just trying to move it and it fell.
“At the end of the day, people are going to make things look the way they want it to look,” Antetokounmpo said of the video of him pushing the ladder…”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 it’s my right for me to work on my skills after a horrible night at the free throw line.
While the incident itself is not that big a deal, from a PR perspective, it’s not a great look for Antetokounmpo — it’s going to be called a tantrum. He may have had reasons to be frustrated, but his actions put a smudge on his squeaky-clean, Disney-movie reputation and persona.