"Is there something wrong with having fun?". That was Giannis Antetokounmpo's response after Dwight Howard and the Philadelphia 76ers took exception to his celebration in the Milwaukee Bucks' overtime win.
Antetokounmpo fuelled the Bucks to a hard-fought 109-05 victory against the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers behind a game-high 32 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in NBA action on Wednesday.
The Bucks had trailed by 19 points in the second half before two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led the rally, capped by his 10 points in overtime.
After starring in OT, Antetokounmpo celebrated a turnaround jumper by sitting down on the court at Wells Fargo Center and smiling into the camera – drawing boos from the 76ers fans in attendance.
76ers big man Howard, whose team's six-game winning streak was snapped, said post-game: "I wanted to go and Stone Cold Stunner [a popular wrestling move in the WWE] him, but I had already got one tech.
"It's basketball. He wanted to have fun, but we'll see these guys again. Today we allowed them to get back into the game. We did it. We can't control that.
"But he had a hell of a game. Hit some tough shots late at the end of the game, reigning MVP, and he had a great game. I'm not one to talk trash or say anything negative, but we'll see them again and it'll be a different result."
In response to Howard's comments, Antetokounmpo told reporters: "I don't think there's anything wrong with having fun. I just like to have fun. In the first half, I was not having fun.
"I kind of talked to myself at the half and said, 'No matter how bad the game is, you can't forget what you have to do, which is have fun'.
"Obviously, there's a couple times where I exaggerate, but I don't want to take anything back. I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to sit down.' I was having fun. I was talking to my team-mates -- I was talking to them. I was just trying to be in the moment. But I was just having fun."
The Bucks were held to their lowest-scoring first half of the season by the 76ers, before fighting back to take down the hosts on the road.
Milwaukee are within one and a half games of the 76ers in the Eastern Conference amid a five-game winning streak.
"When the game starts, you try to get into your rhythm, but you're not stepping the right way. ... It's just hard to get into a rhythm," said Antetokounmpo, who scored 28 points in the second half and overtime. "And the way I try to get into a rhythm is to get everybody involved.
"I try to move the ball a little bit, move my legs, move my body a little bit. But going into the second half, I wanted to be a little more aggressive, but I knew I could not come right out of the gate and be aggressive. I had to slowly build up to it.
"But going down the stretch, I was just trying to be aggressive. ... My teammates need me to keep making the right play, and they need me to stay aggressive, so that's what I tried to do."