Giannis explains side of ‘unfortunate’ ladder scene
1: 40 AM ET
PHILADELPHIA — Following Milwaukee’s 110-102 loss to Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, a strange scene unfolded between Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, 76ers reserve center Montrezl Harrell and a ladder, culminating with Antetokounmpo pushing a 12-foot ladder out of his way and having it skid a few feet before falling over on its side. Antetokounmpo stated that he had never tried to disrespect anyone. “I feel like today was just an unfortunate event that occurred. “
What set all of these events in motion was a second straight dreadful game at the free throw line for Antetokounmpo, who went 4-for-15 from the charity stripe on Friday. This came after a 4-for-11 night at the line in Wednesday’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After going back to the locker area after Friday’s game, Antetokounmpo went back to the court to practice free throws. It was at this point that things took an unusual turn.
After Antetokounmpo made seven free throws in a row — part of his routine of making 10 in a row every time he steps onto the court — and had shot his eighth, Harrell took the ball away and wouldn’t give it back. He apparently was upset that Antetokounmpo was preventing him from getting in his own work ahead of Philadelphia playing the second half of a back-to-back against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
” I respect all players,” Antetokounmpo stated. Antetokounmpo said that some players don’t want to play right now. They want to do more work and improve their skills. He added, “Obviously we can shoot together.” They said they didn’t believe me, that it was their court and that 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 made my eighth. I was shocked when he took the ball from me. It feels very unprofessional. I wouldn’t take the ball from a professional athlete who is trying to do his job. “
Thanasis Antetokounmpo then went and tried to speak to Harrell at the other end of the court, leading to another discussion and Harrell leaving with the ball. Harrell was gone by the time reporters became aware of the situation. The 76ers organization also declined to offer comment about what happened.
Harrell later tweeted his own explanation of what happened.
“Aye, make sure you understand the whole story,” Harrell wrote in a tweet. “I asked the man if he could get off the court so that I can exercise they had to change over the court but he ignored me so that’s what you get!” Respect is respect! GOODNIGHT! “
Giannis Antitounmpo stated that he went to Philadelphia’s locker room to get two more balls and returned to the court to complete his routine. Arena workers had already set up a ladder in front of the basket by that point.
“I returned out there to shoot, and there was a ladder infront of me,” Antetokounmpo stated. “And I asked Antetokounmpo to move the ladder. They said, “No.” They said, “No.” I asked them to move the ladder. They replied, “No.” They said, “No.” I was like, “Guys, I have two free throws. Can you please move the ladder?” They said, “No. ‘”
At this point, Antetokounmpo walked to the basket from the free throw line and moved the ladder out of his way. Antetokounmpo then shoved the ladder out of the way of arena workers, who moved it back in front the basket. The ladder fell several feet, tipped over, and fell on its side.
Antetokounmpo then went on to finish his routine and went back to Milwaukee’s locker room, where he was visibly upset about what had happened. He finally spoke to reporters a while later.
“I don’t know if I should apologize because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong, except the ladder just fell. After a terrible night at the free throw line, I feel it’s my right to improve my skills. Anyone in my situation would do the same thing as me and go out to practice his free throws. They don’t care about their game if they don’t.
“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. “Did you mean to push the ladder all of the way down?” I did not. I tried, but it was too hard. It got caught and fell. People will make it look how they want it to.
” I know what happened. I believe there are cameras all around this court. We can all show the whole thing, from people coming and getting balls to my face, people getting in my way. I don’t want all that.
” I don’t know if it’s right to apologize. I didn’t do anything wrong, but the ladder fell. After a terrible night at the free throw line, I feel it’s my right to improve my skills. Anyone in my situation would do the same thing as me and go out to practice his free throws.
” And if they didn’t, they don’t care about their game. “
Antetokounmpo also said that he believes his reputation precedes him and that he wouldn’t disrespect anyone in the league — nor, he said, was he trying to do so here.
“He said that everyone knows my character. “Those who know me know that I don’t try to disrespect anyone within the NBA, my coaching staff, or within the opposing team. When asked, I have the best words for any player. I have never disrespected a coach or another player. From my rookie year to now, whenever I finish my routine, I shake hands with all the ball boys. I know it’s hard for them to chase balls over and over again, and I want to make sure they are OK. It’s for my ball boys in Milwaukee. They are there to help us shoot, and I try to do the same on the road. This is something I am known for. “
When Antetokounmpo was asked about what had caused all this, his poor free throw shooting in the past two games, and what was causing it, he gave a simple answer.
” He shrugged. “It’s as simple as that. There is no problem, I think. The ball is not going in. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.