Giannis Antetokounmpo's bogus ejection: NBA should be giving fans reasons to watch games, not turn them off

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Exactly three minutes into the second half of the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected after being hit with his second technical foul. 

If you’re wondering what a superstar like Giannis could’ve possibly done to warrant being ejected when people paid good money to come watch him play, the answer, unfortunately, is nothing. 

He threw down a dunk, which was worthy of a flex. Gave Isaiah Stewart a momentary mean mug. And turned around and started running back on defense.

Go ahead. Watch the clip again. The dude didn’t do anything. If you’re going to point to the “too small” gesture as part of the ejection equation, save it. That’s no different than Stephen Curry hitting his victims with the “night-night” or Russell Westbrook “rocking the baby.” That is about the most innocuous, muted celebration imaginable following a play like that. 

It would’ve been a bogus call even if it was Antetokounmpo’s first tech

The fact that it was his second tech was an absolute joke. 

That is nothing more than official Scott Twardoski making himself bigger than the game and the biggest star in it. I don’t need context. I don’t care what led up to it. Giannis, for whatever it’s worth, was hit for his first tech in the second quarter for voicing his displeasure at what he felt was a missed call on one of his drives. Was Twardoski still peeved about that interaction? Had Giannis been chirping all night? 

Don’t know. Don’t care. 

With the NBA currently negotiating its next media rights deal, Adam Silver has placed a high priority on ensuring that the best players are on the floor as often as possible for the fans that pay, in many cases, astronomical prices to watch them in person, and pretty outsized cable fees even when they watch the games from their couch. 

Now when they actually are on the floor, we’re going to throw them out for this? With more entertainment options than ever available to consumers, the NBA is trying to get people to watch their games, not give people excuses to turn them off. 

Every single person who paid a lot of money to go to this game, to take their kids, did so to watch Giannis in at least some capacity. Same goes for the people who flipped to it on their TVs when they could have gone to 300 different channels. Maybe they will next time. Because they got robbed this time. Plain and simple. 

It should not have to be explained to officials that second technical fouls should only be assessed when the player has given you no other choice. That goes triple for superstars. If officials like Twardoski need this to be spelled out for them, then the league needs to do it. Get the officials in room or on a Zoom call and tell them, in no uncertain terms, If you’re going to toss a superstar, it damn well better be a worthy offense. 

Call it preferential treatment. Call it whatever you want. The NBA is about entertainment. Giannis did his best to still do his part in this regard by sitting down in a fan’s seat and crossing his legs in incredulous protest before heading to the locker room. And, frankly, that reaction was more disrespectful than the one that actually got him ejected in the first place. 

As it should’ve been. Giannis should’ve reacted a lot worse than this, to be honest. At least the Bucks still managed to win the game, 120-118, but in the big picture, those fans, and the NBA as a whole, lose when stuff like this happens. 

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