NBA Denies Allegation of Plan to Rule Giannis Antetokounmpo out of EuroBasket

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2017

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after a dunk during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA first-round playoff series basketball game against the Toronto Raptors Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

The NBA denied a claim from the Greek federation that the league hatched a plot to keep Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo out of EuroBasket.

"The NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks have followed all appropriate protocol under the NBA-FIBA agreement," the NBA said in a statement, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "Giannis has an injury that has been confirmed through multiple examinations, and any suggestion to the contrary is false."

On Saturday, the federation issued an incendiary statement after Antetokounmpo wrote on Facebook he would not appear in the European championship due to a knee injury.

The statement read:

"The simultaneous report by the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo himself, by phone and social media from faraway China, and not by the appropriate official manner, of his inability to join the national men's team saddens us...but is not surprising.

"A series of indications...had convinced us of the existence of an organized and well-staged plan by (Antetokounmpo's NBA) team, with the full knowledge if not encouragement of the NBA that put the athlete on the spot and forced him to announce today that he is no longer part of the men's national team."

Takis Tsagronis, federation general secretary, said on TV ERT they had uncovered no issues with Antetokounmpo's knee.

"We, on our side, did everything not to give the Bucks an excuse," he noted. "We took a magnetic scan of Giannis' leg, and it was clean. What the Bucks claim is not the reality; something else is happening."

Antetokounmpo, 22, is one of the NBA's brightest young stars. He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game last season. Thus, if he has any hint of an injury, it isn't surprising the Bucks and NBA would be cautious.

In September 2016, Antetokounmpo signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension with Milwaukee.