After a controversial play in the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee’s forward Moe Wagner opened up on what happened after he was headbutted by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
We see players become rough on the court with one another outside of play in a number of sports. In intense sports games, tensions may run high, and basketball is no exception. While players in basketball don’t often beat one other up, it does happen on occasion.
In the Orlando bubble in 2020, one of those occasions occurred during a regular-season game between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks. Former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo headbutted Moe Wagner, who is now a forward for the Orlando Magic, during the play.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was removed from the game after the action, and he was rightly banned for the Bucks’ last regular-season game. Wagner discussed the viral moment on a recent edition of The Long Shot podcast with Duncan Robinson. Wagner stated that a few things happened before the headbutt, pointing to a specific charge call as one example.
He simply straight out headbutted me… It begins early, and I believe this is when Giannis loses his cool. Before the play, there’s a boxout, and Giannis has extremely long legs. I don’t intentionally blindside him, but I box him out on the weak side, hands high, and shove him beneath the basket… I’m doing my job when I strike him a bit too hard, unintentionally, and he falls awkwardly.
When the MVP is eliminated, everyone goes “oh s*it.” I’m torn between thinking, “Ok, he simply fell because I boxed him out,” and being surprised, “why the f*ck did he just fall so easily?” I return the stare and say, “Look at him,” but I don’t say anything. I believe he mistook that for “Sit down” s*it.
When I awoke, Budenholzer was in the middle of calling a play. I’m keeping a close eye on Giannis the whole time. Giannis is looking at Budenholzer as he calls a play “That’s a waste of time. Please pass the ball to me. Please pass the ball to me.” Takes the ball and dribbles downhill with a look in his eyes as though he’s trying to f*ck me to death. I really simply fell and prayed for a foul call from the referee. My team was also called for a foul by the referee. I’m not sure whether there was a fee.
I knew he was irritated, so I didn’t want to be the first to intervene… I go out, and then a timeout is called, and we cross paths again. I could see he was attempting to communicate or do anything… I glanced aside as we actually crossed paths, and I never anticipated him to headbutt me.
I was prepared to be pushed, to play the “hold me back” card, and maybe to earn him a technical… but I never anticipated him to headbutt me. That s*it was excruciating. “What the heck just happened?” I thought to myself… it was a strange scenario.
The result of the scenario is that “I have a quarrel with Giannis.” This is not the case. I like seeing him play, and I was pleased for him. That’s a story I’m not fond of… That’s the only thing I’m concerned about: people losing interest in me.
There’s little doubt that these kinds of events don’t happen very often in the NBA, so hearing Wagner give us an inside look at the viral moment is fascinating. While Giannis Antetokounmpo’s behavior was clearly unacceptable, it seems to have been a spur-of-the-moment occurrence, and Antetokounmpo is renowned for his sportsmanship in general. It’s unclear if Giannis Antetokounmpo would respond, but from Wagner’s viewpoint, it seems to have been a one-time incident during a tense game.