Giannis Antetokounmpo thought Magic Johnson’s alleged tampering was just a compliment
There was quite a bit of confusion and disagreement when the NBA released its $50,000 fine for the Los Angeles Lakers, an unintentional consequence of statements made by team president Magic Johnson on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetkounmpo.
Johnson, who is one of the NBA’s top 50 greatest players to ever play the game, has long been retired, but still remains a fan of the game regardless of the position he holds on the team. He had expressed some joy in seeing Antetokounmpo get selected as an Eastern ConferenceAll-Starr, but the NBA didn’t take kind to the notion.
The Lakers were issued a fine which isn’t the first to come their way, but the most recent, and an expensive lesson to learn.
Many were baffled at the fine due to the nature of the statement. The NBA has a strict policy on tampering rules preventing teams from illegally recruiting players from other organizations, but this statement sounded more like Johnson the fan, not a team executive trying to pull the athletic forward away from his team.
Antetokounmpo himself didn’t quite understand it when he learned of the fine on Tuesday night. In fact, the Bucks star doesn’t see anything wrong with a rival team executive complimenting players of other teams.
Here’s what Antetokounmpo told reporters:
“It was just a compliment. I don’t think Magic Johnson was tampering in any way. I think it was just a compliment towards a player. He was asked about a player and he gave a compliment. I don’t know what the rules are, if you get fined for a compliment, you get fined for a compliment.”
The late January comments to ESPN’s Nick Friedell about the Greek Freak which also included the words “special” and “probably the greatest athlete we have in the league today” was just too much praise and admiration in public for a rival team executive to give.
This follows a fine issued earlier when Johnson made comments about Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George who appeared to be on the Lakers radar in free agency. The first time was a warning, and this time it was a step over the line according to the NBA, and they aren’t afraid to hold anyone accountable to the tampering rules.
Antetokounmpo is under contract with the Bucks until the summer of 2021, but he has given no indication that he’s unhappy in Milwaukee.