Renowned sports commentator Stephen A. Smith voiced strong disapproval on ESPN's "First Take" over the contentious ejection of Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during a recent game against the Detroit Pistons. Smith expressed his intent to contact the NBA office, questioning the rationale behind the technical foul that led to Antetokounmpo's dismissal and arguing it was unfair to fans who came to watch the star player.
The incident occurred at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo received his second technical foul in the third quarter. This followed a moment where he overpowered Pistons' Isaiah Stewart with a dunk and then gestured to indicate Stewart was 'too small' to guard him.
The referees deemed this behaviour enough for a technical, leading to Antetokounmpo's ejection due to it being his second of the game.
Smith Blasts Ejection Decision
Smith, in his characteristic fervor, argued, "Who the hell is paying to see the referee? That is not a reason to eject Giannis Antetokounmpo from a game.
That is ridiculous. That is a disservice to the fans coming to see them play." Despite not witnessing the game, Smith's stance was clear: the ejection was unnecessary and detrimental to the game's appeal. The panel, which included former NBA player Kendrick Perkins, shifted their discussion to focus on this incident, underscoring its significance.
Smith emphasized that ejecting a marquee player like Antetokounmpo for such a reason was absurd. In a fortunate turn for the Bucks, their newly acquired star guard, Damian Lillard, stepped up in Antetokounmpo's absence. Lillard's eight consecutive points fueled a critical comeback against the Pistons.
Brook Lopez's timely three-pointer bolstered the Bucks' efforts, while Jae Crowder's free throws for Detroit kept the game competitive following a crucial three-pointer from Cade Cunningham. This incident raises questions about the consistency and impact of officiating decisions in the NBA, particularly concerning star players whose presence significantly influences the game's outcome and entertainment value.
Smith's outspoken criticism reflects a broader debate within the basketball community about balancing maintaining discipline on the court and preserving the game's appeal to fans.