Giannis Antetokounmpo On Why Bucks Are Still Winners
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs by the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Game 5, much like the rest of the series, never really felt like it was in any serious doubt. Ultimately Miami prevailed with a 103-94 victory thanks to an extremely balanced team effort.
Following the game, Antetokounmpo reflected on everything that had transpired in the NBA Bubble – and why his team still felt like winners despite how the year ended.
“At the end of the day, what we did…(in) the game against Orlando, it’s bigger than basketball,” he said.
“We choose as a team to do both (play basketball and fight for social justice). Is it hard to do both? Yes, it’s hard to do both. But that’s what we chose as a team, to stand for something that’s bigger than basketball, stand up for something that we believe, and at the same time play basketball. But it’s not easy.”
The Bucks essentially kickstarted the brief player-led strike that took the NBA by storm several weeks ago.
After the police shooting of Jacob Blake, there was a lot of chatter around the NBA Bubble regarding possibly boycotting games.
Milwaukee players took matters into their own hands and ultimately refused to take the floor for their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. Because they hadn’t talked to anyone about this ahead of time, the team moved forward with the decision under the assumption that they would be assessed an automatic loss.
Ultimately, the rest of the teams in the NBA Bubble followed the Bucks’ example. Less than a week later, new reforms were agreed upon by the players and owners that would promote social justice and voting rights.
As a result, while the Bucks did not achieve their goal of winning an NBA championship this season, clearly they are still leaving with a sense of accomplishment.
We all know what’s been going on with the NBA’s ratings. Now we know why. https://t.co/M9uOeWOpqN
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 8, 2020
After Game 5, Antetokounmpo also took a moment to speak out regarding his much-discussed future with the Bucks.
When pressed on whether he was considering leaving the franchise that drafted him, the reigning league MVP said no.
“It’s not happening,” he said.
“That’s not happening. Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”
That no doubt is music to the ears of many in the Bucks’ front office.
This summer, Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a super-max extension that would pay him in the neighborhood of $254 million over five years.
If he takes the deal, then all the chatter regarding his future in Milwaukee will immediately subside.
Should he opt to wait and see – then trade speculation and gossip about him leaving town will persist until a long-term deal of some sort is reached.
It will certainly be an interesting offseason for all parties involved.