MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo exchanged heated words with members of the Indiana staff and raced toward the Pacers’ locker room Wednesday night as the teams squared off in a hallway in adispute over the game ball following the Milwaukee star’s franchise-record 64-point performance.
After the Bucks' 140-126 victory, Antetokounmpo had an animated discussion with Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton and other Pacers before rushing from the court toward the Indiana locker room in search of the game ball.
“Ballgate” continued Thursday, with fans and collectors.
"We have seen a huge market for game-used gear by Giannis," Jeff Lemieux the owner of Jeff's Sports in Brookfield said.
Lemieux has appraised thousands of sports items. He said Giannis’ game-winning jerseys cost up to $20,000. That means the record-breaking ball could cost, “$15-, $20-, $25,000 range," Lemieux said.
But the meaning behind the ball means more than money to the Greek Freak.
“The ball that I have and will take and give to my mom for sure," Antetokounmpo said post-game.
The Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle said the misunderstanding started when they were going to take the ball after one of their rookies scored their first point in the NBA.
“We grabbed the ball and a couple minutes later several of their players ended up in their hallway,” Carlise said. “I don't think any punches were landed but the general manager got elbowed in the ribs by one of their players.”
Giannis ended up getting what he was told was a game ball, but he's skeptical.
“It doesn't feel like the game ball to me it feels like a brand new ball," he said.
Lemieux, owner of Jeff's Sports, is on the Buck’s side.
“He could feel the wear and tear on it, if you will, than the ball that wasn't used. So I think 100 percent he would know.”
It's a sentimental item that Bucks fans hope Giannis really does have.