In the past week, NBA referees have become quite the hot topic around the league. To start the season, they have been throwing out technical fouls to players for mean mugging after a highlight-worthy play. The retired players and analysts have found it ridiculous, especially if it impacts a superstar player like Giannis Antetokounmpo. Recently, Tyrese Haliburton spoke about it when asked by JJ Redick on his podcast – ‘The Old Man and the Three‘.
When Redick expressed the ridiculousness of being given a technical foul for mean-mugging, here is what Tyrese said – “I agree with you. I think the fans pay to see that. It’s part of the entertainment side of the game.” The Indiana Pacers guard talked about the players loving that aspect of the game. He then referenced Giannis Antetokounmpo’s recent technical against the Detroit Pistons and said “I mean we played Giannis the night after the mean mug, and everybody was like – We are gonna get angry Giannis. Okay, let’s see what that looks like, and then 54.”
The Greek Freak was shocked when he was asked to leave the game, and the Bucks almost lost the game due to the poor decision by the referees. Anthony Edwards was also recently adjudged a technical foul for the exact same thing. Haliburton requested the referees to let such reactions go when the player is already on one technical foul, and considering the player is a superstar.
With the NBA tightening the screws to promote better on-court behavior by the players, there is very little room left for theatrics. However, sometimes this becomes a hindrance to showcasing passion. Somewhere within the two is where the NBA wants the players to operate, and the line is becoming thinner with each passing season.
Players react to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ejection
Tyrese Haliburton and JJ Redick weren’t the only players who had something to say about the Greek Freak’s ejection. Antetokounmpo’s teammate – Damian Lillard, was also unhappy with the referee’s decision. In the post-game interview, the former Blazers star talked about it being a bad technical foul that could have, and almost did alter the outcome of the game.
ESPN analyst – Stephen A. Smith had strong words for the referees and said “Who the hell is paying to see the referee? That is not a reason to eject Giannis Antetokounmpo.” A sentiment that was echoed by NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, who shared it on his Instagram story. With negative reactions coming across all media houses and from NBA players, it is safe to say that the referees got this one wrong.