MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo exchanged heated words with members of the Indiana team and ran toward the Pacers' locker room Wednesday night as the teams faced off in a hallway in a scramble for the game ball following the team's franchise-record performance. 64 points from the Milwaukee star.
After the Bucks' 140-126 victory, Antetokounmpo got into a spirited discussion with Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton and other Pacers before running off the court toward Indiana's locker room in search of the ball.
The Bucks wanted the game ball for Antetokounmpo. Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said the Pacers got the ball to Oscar Tshiebwe, who scored his first official NBA point.
This led to a confrontation between team members in the arena corridor. After that, there was still confusion about who had which game ball.
“I have no idea. I'm not going to lie,” Antetokounmpo said. “I have no idea. I don't know. I really do not know. I have a ball, but I don't know if it's the game ball. Doesn't look like game ball to me. It feels like a whole new ball. I can say. I played about 35 minutes today. I know what the game ball felt like. The ball that I have, that I'm going to take and I'm going to give it to my mother for sure, but I don't know if it's really the game ball.”
A video appears to show the game ball being collected by a member of the Bucks team. Carlisle said the Pacers apparently have a backup ball they picked up after the game.
Bucks guard Cameron Payne said he was one of the players who went down the tunnel.
“The man wanted that ball,” Payne said. “I'm following my team, helping my teammate. It was a lot of commotion, honestly. He just wanted his ball, man.
Carlisle said several Bucks were in the hallway near Indiana's locker room and a confrontation occurred, with Indiana's general manager being elbowed in the ribs.
“What happened after the game was disgraceful,” Carlisle said. “There was a misunderstanding about the game ball. … We weren’t thinking about Giannis’ franchise record, so we took the ball.
“A few minutes later, several of their players ended up in our hallway, and there was a big, I don't know what to call it – a fight, hand-to-hand, whatever. I don't think any punches were thrown, but my general manager was elbowed in the ribs by one of his players. He certainly had a bruised rib and who knows if it's something more than that. Unfortunate situation.
“We don’t need the official game ball. There are two game balls there. We could have chosen the other one, but it wasn't necessary to get to that point. Really regrettable.
Carlisle named the teams that have played three times in recent weeks and said things have heated up between the teams. Indiana defeated Milwaukee last Thursday night in the semifinals of the Tournament of the Season in Las Vegas.