Sportsmanship is one thing. But sometimes, referees really ought to leave a little wiggle room when it comes to enforcing rules to the exact letter of the law.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was tossed out of the Bucks' Wednesday night game against the Detroit Pistons early in the third quarter when he dunked on Isaiah Stewart, stared at him briefly, and put his hand to the floor indicating the 'too small' gesture.
Antetokounmpo was given a technical for taunting, his second of the game. Two technicals, of course, earns an automatic ejection.
Just like that, his night was over.
Here's the video:
Giannis Antetokounmpo ejection robbed fans of great midwest battle
I can assure you, not even Pistons fans want to see Antetokounmpo thrown out of the game for this. It was a lukewarm moment at best between the MVP and Stewart, and if anything, should have fired up Stewart more to lock him down the next time down the floor.
Instead, referees got involved and put an end to all the fun, pulling all the wind out of the sails of what had been an entertaining game to that point.
Officiating is a tough job, and in recent years there has been an emphasis on trying to police taunting incidents to prevent bad blood from intensifying into scuffles or all-out brawls, which can easily spill into the stands and become dangerous to fans and players alike. Trying to manage the tenor of a game while simultaneously having to enforce rules is a tall task.
But come on, this instance, specifically, is bad for the game. It's a case that would have been better for the official to pull Antetokounmpo aside at the next timeout and deliver a verbal warning to keep things in check and moving. Instead, the soft call became the main storyline of an otherwise entertaining game.
Let 'em play.