The FIBA World Cup was bound to create some awkward moments among NBA players. One of those occurred at the end of Team USA’s 69-53 victory over Greece on Saturday, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst details.
Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the older brother of reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, drew Team USA’s ire when he fouled Harrison Barnes from behind late in the game as Barnes went up for a dunk. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Giannis had to be separated afterward after exchanging words as Brown pointed toward Thanasis, according to Windhorst.
The teams didn’t hold a postgame handshake in order to avoid another confrontation. Team USA was upset that Thanasis, who signed a two-year contract with Milwaukee in July, didn’t immediately apologize to Barnes, who was uninjured.
“The [lack of apology] escalated it,” Marcus Smart said to Windhorst and other media members. “At that moment, you’ve got to take it for what it is. Regardless of whether you feel like it was wrong or right, it was wrong.”
Giannis scored 15 points but sat out the fourth quarter. Greek officials said he was rested as the team tries to qualify for the quarterfinals on Monday. He was too upset to talk to the media afterward, according to an Associated Press report.
Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals with the victory.