One of the NBA’s “nice guys” is dealing with his first controversy.
After Milwaukee’s 110-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo was seen on video pushing a ladder that arena workers had moved under the basketball hoop onto the floor.
Antetokounmpo tried to shoot free throws after walking off the free throw line in Milwaukee’s 4-15 loss.
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Arena workers had placed a 12-foot ladder under the hoop to prevent Antetokounmpo from practicing.
After Antetokounmpo moved the ladder away from the hoop, arena workers put it back. Antetokounmpo then approached the workers and the ladder a second time and angrily pushed the ladder out of the way and onto the ground.
“I have never tried to disrespect anyone in any way, shape or form,” Antetokounmpo said after the incident, according to ESPN. “I feel like just an unfortunate event happened today.”
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“I went back out to shoot and there was a ladder in front of me,” said Antetokounmpo. “And I said, ‘Can you please move the ladder?’ And they said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Can you please move the ladder?’ They said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Guys, I have two free throws left, can you please move the ladder?’ And they said, ‘No.’”
Antetokounmpo said he had no intention of pushing the ladder to the ground, just moving it out of the way to finish his free-throw practice.
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The two-time MVP has a routine that requires him to hit 10 consecutive free throws every time he steps onto the basketball court. After his eighth straight free throw and before the ladder incident, Philadelphia Sixers big man Montrezl Harrell snatched the ball and refused to return it to Antetokounmpo.
Harrell was reportedly upset as he wanted to do some work after the game.
Antetokounmpo went back to the dressing room, grabbed two basketballs and was returning to the court to finish his free throw practice when the ladder incident happened.
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“At the end of the day, I think everyone knows my character,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN. “I think people who know my character know that I never try to disrespect anyone in the NBA, on my coaching staff or on the opposing team. I respect with the best words about each player whenever I was asked. Or I’ve never disrespected an opposing coach or coaching staff.
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“Or whenever I shoot and finish my routine, I shake hands with every ball boy since my freshman year until now and thank them for the work I put in because I know it’s hard to do their job, over and over Chasing balls again and again and make sure they are ok. I make it for my ball boys and girls in Milwaukee. They help us with the shoot and I try to do that on the road too. That’s what I’m known for.”
Milwaukee has lost four of their last six games since the start of the season, 9-0.