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Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his second technical foul in the third quarter of the Milwaukee Bucks' 120-118 win against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, and some people have been fuming about it. Antetokounmpo played only 22 minutes before his ejection, and the technical free throw was the start of a 35-14 Pistons run. 

The second technical foul was assessed because Antetokounmpo stared down Detroit big man Isaiah Stewart after a dunk:

As is usually the case after a controversial call, the crew chief spoke to a pool reporter after the game. Here is how referee Rodney Mott explained the series of events that got Antetokounmpo ejected:

QUESTION: Explain why Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for a technical foul at the 3:47 mark of the second quarter. Looked like it was "off the ball," as the play was a personal foul call on Cade Cunningham that sent Damian Lillard to the line.

MOTT: On the play, Giannis drives to the basket and he thinks he gets fouled. Then he approaches the game official and uses profanity, which is an unsportsmanlike technical foul and was issued at that time.

QUESTION: Explain why Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for a technical foul at the 9:00 mark of the third quarter following a dunk and subsequently ejected.

MOTT: After the dunk Giannis turns to his opponent and taunts him and a taunting technical foul was called, an unsportsmanlike. And he was ejected from the game, per rule, because two unsportsmanlike technical fouls, you are ejected from the game.

If you were mad about the call, you're probably madder after reading this. It's not fun to see a superstar -- or any player, for that matter -- kicked out of a game for some light taunting. Light taunting is fun!

Technically, though, Antetokounmpo wasn't ejected for the taunt itself. Had he not picked up another tech earlier in the game, he would have remained on the court. On a related note, "respect for the game" is one of the NBA's points of emphasis for officials this season -- every team in the league has been shown a video with examples of tech-worthy reactions to referees.

It is worth noting that Antetokounmpo is far from the first player to receive a technical foul for a staredown. He's not even the first star player to be ejected because the staredown happened to be his second tech of the game -- in 2019, the same thing happened to Trae Young, and it was followed by the same outrage and the same boring pool report. The tech was not rescinded

Sometimes, you can get away with stuff like this, especially when you're not standing over somebody or staring at him for five seconds. The safest thing to do, though, is not stare down anyone at all.

More on the ejection:

  • Bucks coach Adrian Griffin told reporters that he needs to do a better job of "protecting" Antetokounmpo. "Giannis doesn't complain to the refs," he said. "He's really respectful to the refs. And I think I'm letting him down in that sense because I think I need to be a little more vocal during the games when he's getting hit and kind of stick up for him a little bit better. So I've been dropping the ball on that. And it's an emotional game, he made a phenomenal play. It was exciting, emotional. And I thought he moved on fairly quickly. So I was surprised with the second technical, but that's up to the league to decide."
  • Milwaukee center Brook Lopez told reporters, "We felt there were a lot of questionable calls, but you gotta fight through that. And the way Giannis got kicked out, we obviously don't think that was great or correct, but whatever. We turned it into a positive. It sucked not to have him out there, but it was a great opportunity for us to ... have that look without Giannis and get a good two quarters, quarter-and-a-half to really work together and figure things out."
  • Bucks forward Jae Crowder said, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "He made like a little face and he took off running and he didn't say a word. I think that's why he was so frustrated, like you really threw me out and I didn't say anything? Like, the first tech, I think he would say he deserved it. He deserved that first tech. The second one was like, he didn't say a word, so how do you throw him out for that? He definitely stared, but I don't know if that's a tech. I don't know about that one."