After the match, Antetokounmpo felt remorse in his actions when addressing the media.
“Terrible action,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I could go back and go back and come back to this game, I wouldn’t. But at the end of the day, we’re all human, we all make mistakes. I think I’ve done a great job all year, in my career, of keeping my cool and focusing on the game, but like I said, we’re human, we make mistakes. But at the end of the day, learn it, keep playing good basketball and keep moving forward. ”
As for why he reacted this way, the reigning MVP said he was responding to what he felt was a buildup of emotions during the game. While Wagner suffered the biggest to Antetokounmpo’s frustration, he wasn’t necessarily angry with him.
“I don’t think I was frustrated with Wagner,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think it was just the whole, like, dirty game buildup in my mind. Guys trip me up, guys falling in front of my feet, holding me, hitting me. It wasn’t fair – I don’t have nothing against Wagner, it wasn’t just him. ”
The ejection was the third in Antetokounmpo’s regular-season career and fourth overall. Based on a historic precedent, Antetokounmpo is likely to draw a one-game suspension for this header. Hasheem Thabeet (2013) and Kevin Garnett (2015) both headbutted opposing players and were suspended for their team’s next game. Milwaukee’s next game will be against Memphis as the Grizzlies desperately try to find their way into the play-in tournament for last place in the Western Conference playoffs.
Milwaukee has nothing to play in having long been the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, so losing Antetokounmpo to one game wouldn’t affect their playoff future. But the Bucks have struggled to get into a rhythm in Orlando due to a combination of rest-induced absences and the coronavirus. They will have a relatively easy first round series against the Magic in which they can hopefully regain the momentum they lost, but after that they will have to win three very difficult series against other contenders.
Now Antetokounmpo is losing, at the very least, the rest of this game as a focus. He can no longer play until the playoffs. The Grizzlies didn’t really need the win, but getting those minutes on the pitch would have been precious. Now? They’re that much closer to entering the playoffs with unnecessary rust.