MILWAUKEE —What would Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer be thankful for? Well, when it comes to basketball, a little more protection for the star player from him and, frankly, any player who may be the recipient of a hard foul.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the receiving end of a flagrant 1 from Joel Embiid in the team’s final game on November 18, and on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers he was once again the victim of rough contact.
Budenholzer, who rarely steps outside the lines, made his feelings clear. “You have group reporters, you can ask again,” he said. “The shot the other night in Philly was significant, they don’t make that any better. I just think sometimes the hits that Giannis is taking, the league needs to watch, the league needs to protect him. It’s not just him, anybody takes those hits, the league He needs to protect the players.”
Rewind to the third quarter of Monday’s game. Portland’s Shaedon Sharpe made a wide, acrobatic move to the rim only for his layup to spin and go. Antetokounmpo grabbed the rebound and went the other way, charging full steam into a wall of defenders.
While trying to dodge Jerami Grant, the veteran reached out and essentially slid Antetokounmpo, sending him to the ground, albeit unintentionally. As he went down, Antetokounmpo was awkwardly grabbed around the neck by Justise Winslow in an attempt to hold him up that went awry.
The referees went to the monitor to review the play, but decided to keep a common foul, a decision that Budenholzer disagreed with after his team’s 119-111 victory.
“So live it definitely looked like he was wrapped up, went over his head, hit him in the forehead,” Budenholzer said. “Live, it looked like a flagrant foul. Even though it goes to the other side of the court, live and as it happened, I don’t see how that’s not a flagrant foul. If the arena showed replays, I didn’t see the replays and I haven’t seen any replays ever since. But when you go high, over the shoulder and wrap around someone, it looked like a non-basketball play, it looked clearly blatant.”
Budenholzer didn’t have the benefit of replay and, when viewed from the alternate backline angle, the foul is perhaps more awkward than flagrant, although if it had been improved upon, it would be hard for anyone on the Blazers to complain.
In any case, Budenholzer seemed more annoyed with how his star has been refereed in recent games in general than with that play in particular.
The incident in Philadelphia that Budenholzer referred to was Embiid’s flagrant foul on Antetokounmpo during the Bucks’ loss to the 76ers on Nov. 18. he was allowed to stay in the game after the officials decided not to upgrade the foul to Flagrant 2. Of course, that collision was overshadowed by the ladder incident.
When asked about the punishment he’s taken in recent games, Antetokounmpo, who finished with 37 points, seven rebounds and six assists, declined to go into detail and wasn’t critical of any players or officials.
“I don’t feel pain, I feel great,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’ve been taking a lot of heavy hits, but I always fall down and get back up. At the end of the day, it’s basketball. I’ve said it a few times, I enjoy physicality, I enjoy putting my body on the line.” “It turns my stomach up, it wakes me up. Not a lot of people enjoy getting hit, and at the end of the day, obviously, you want to have a game where you can take less hits. But when I get hit I kind of enjoy it, I feel like I’m a part of it. of the game, I’m in the game, I’m locked up, I’m making plays, I’m being aggressive, I’m downhill, making plays for my teammates. It’s part of my game, it’s part of basketball. Sometimes you’re going to get hit, but I don’t feel pain. I get up.”