After initially being questionable to participate, Milwaukee Bucks reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo's night on Tuesday ended early against the Washington Wizards after he was ejected in the first half.
Antetokounmpo was hit with a flagrant foul 2 for his head-butt against Moritz Wagner at 8:50 in the second quarter. Antetokounmpo finished the contest with 12 points and nine rebounds in 10 minutes, and Milwaukee held on to win 126-113.
It was Antetokounmpo's third career ejection in the regular season and fourth overall, including the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The ejection Tuesday was Antetokounmpo's first since April 1, 2018, at the Denver Nuggets. He has also fouled out in five games this season.
"Terrible action," Antetokounmpo said. "If I could go back, turn back time and go back to that play, I wouldn't do it. But at the end of the day, we're all human, we all make mistakes. I think I've done a great job all year, in my career at keeping my composure and focus on the game, but at the end of the day, we're human and make mistakes. But at the end of the day, you learn from it, keep playing good basketball and keep moving forward."
Antetokounmpo added: "I don't have nothing against Wagner, it wasn't just him. It was just like, in my mind, all these games I've played with guys hitting me, I lost it for a second."
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said there were multiple plays that led into that moment and deserve review and consideration from the league before deciding on any potential fines or suspension.
"This is nothing. Giannis has been dealing with this for a long time," Budenholzer said. "He's a MVP. People are gonna try him. He normally is phenomenal, and today was a slip-up. I think it's probably, in some ways, it could be one of the best things that happened today, and it's a learning moment. We'll all remember how important it is that we've got to keep our cool."
Although Antetokounmpo is widely respected around the league, this situation wasn't his first heated interaction inside the bubble. After being shoved to the ground while fighting for rebounding position with Brooklyn Nets forward Donta Hall on Aug. 4, the Bucks star had to be cooled down by officials before attempting to charge at Hall.
Milwaukee has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the East and snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory against Washington.
"That was a very strange few seconds," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. "I thought Moe stepped in and took a charge. That's what you have to do. You've gotta drop off and force him to shoot. He can drive, [you] step up and take a charge. And a few seconds later, he got a head-butt.
"There's no place for that. It's unfortunate [that it's] Giannis, I have a lot of respect [for him]. Obviously, he's one of the best players in the league, but it's unfortunate that it happened. I'm sure the league is gonna look at it and make a decision. Luckily for them, it's not a playoff game because I'm sure he's gonna miss probably a couple games."