Greece’s basketball federation on Saturday accused the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA of preventing Giannis Antetokounmpo from playing in the European championship.
The Greek federation issued a statement saying that the Bucks and the NBA created an “organized a well-staged plan” to keep the player from participating in the Eurobasket at the end of the month. This came shortly after Antetokounmpo posted on Facebook and Instagram that he will be out of the Eurobasket because of a knee injury.
Antetokounmpo has a new four-year, 100-million-dollar contract with the Bucks begins in September.
“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,” the federation said in the statement.
“A series of indications … had convinced us of the existence of an organized and well-staged plan by (Antentokounmpo’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.”
The federation general secretary Takis Tsagronis said on ERT television that a scan showed that there are no problems with Antetokounmpo’s knee.
“This (the player’s absence) is bad but not unexpected news. All indications were that it would end up like that,” Tsagronis said.
“We, on our side, did everything not to give the Bucks an excuse. We took a magnetic scan of Giannis’ leg and it was clean. What the Bucks claim is not the reality; something else is happening.”
Currently Antetokounmpo is in China to attend a basketball tournament as an NBA ambassador. He wrote in Facebook that he is in pain and could not complete his physical exams. He has already missed all but one of Greece’s warm-up games for the tournament that begins on August 31.
“It is by far the biggest disappointment in my career,” Antetokounmpo posted, in Greek. “I must deal with the problem. Last year, I could `freeze’ the deal on my new extension contract. This year, I have no choice.”
NBA replies to Greek federation allegations
The NBA response on Twitter reads as follows: “The NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks have followed all appropriate protocol under the NBA-FIBA agreement. Giannis has an injury that has been confirmed through multiple examinations and any suggestion to the contrary is false.”