New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter believes Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham should be disciplined for coming between him and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo during a brief skirmish in Thursday’s game.
Ham appeared to shove Kanter away from Antetokounmpo to separate the two players as they stood face-to-face in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s win over the Knicks.
“[Ham] should get fined,” Kanter told reporters on Friday. “The NBA should fine him. He’s not my assistant coach, so he’s not allowed to touch me. You’re a Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach, so you’re allowed to touch the Bucks players. Not me. He cannot be touching me. I could’ve just pushed him back and started another fight, but I don’t think the NBA wants that. He’s not my assistant coach. He’s not my friend. He’s not nobody.”
The skirmish between Antetokounmpo and Kanter occurred in the fourth quarter at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum after Antetokounmpo drove to the basket and was knocked down by Kanter. No foul was called on the play.
Antetokounmpo ran back up the court and went face-to-face with Kanter before the two were quickly separated. After a review, each player was called for a technical foul, then Kanter was called for a second technical, leading to an automatic ejection with 9 minutes, 56 seconds left.
Kanter was hit near his eye by a Thon Maker elbow on the previous play at the other end and eventually required three stitches.
On Friday, Kanter suggested Antetokounmpo received preferential treatment.
“He’s the golden boy,” he said. “Obviously he’s the golden child, and they gave me two technicals. OK. Whatever. I’m going to leave the management to take care of all that stuff.”
Kanter took issue with Antetokounmpo saying earlier this season that he would punch Knicks forward Mario Hezonja in the groin after Hezonja dunked on Antetokounmpo in the first quarter of an early December game, then stared and stepped over him.
“I was very pissed because what kind of player are you … did he not get any PR lesson?” Kanter said of Antetokounmpo’s vow of vengeance. “You cannot say to the media, ‘I’m going to punch somebody in the whatever.’ If you’re the best player in the world or the worst player in the world, you cannot be talking about my teammate like that. It’s very childish of him. He’s an MVP candidate. He’s a cool dude and carrying that franchise, but you can’t be talking about my teammates like that.”
Ham’s involvement Thursday drew the ire of Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who said he didn’t like seeing an opposing team’s coach grab his teammate from behind. Kanter said Friday that he appreciated the support.
“He texted me, and I talked to him on FaceTime,” Kanter said. “He can be quiet, but he supports us 100 percent. He’s always supporting us, and it means a lot to me.”
Kanter had been removed from the starting lineup Thursday as head coach David Fizdale turned to center Luke Kornet. Kanter said he’d be fine with the move as long as the Knicks win games. New York has lost 10 of 11.
“I’ll go out and do my job and help my team win,” Kanter said. “If we’re winning, it’s good. But if we’re losing it’s a problem. If this adjustment is going to get us a win, cool. But if not, there’s a problem. I came off the bench in OKC and Utah, so I’m used to this role, and I’m going to lead the second unit again.”
He added: “It’s my eighth year in the league. Obviously, he’s the coach. You got to respect those decisions. Everybody wants to start. Everyone wants to play 40 minutes. He’s the coach. He’s making the decisions.”
ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.