NBA Stars Mock Giannis Antetokounmpo For Not Guarding Jimmy Butler
Over the past 24 hours multiple NBA players have emerged from the woodwork to take shots at Giannis Antetokounmpo and his defensive prowess.
Antetokounmpo was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year last week. The honor came on the heels of him being an NBA All-Defensive First Team pick in 2019. By and large, most recognize him as one of the league’s top defenders.
On Monday night, however, Antetokounmpo surprised many when he essentially stood by and watched Jimmy Butler kill his team to the tune of 40 points.
Butler was especially lethal late – ultimately leading his squad to a 115-104 upset victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their second round series.
After the game, a reporter asked whether Antetokounmpo gave any consideration to switching over and sticking Butler late in Game 1.
Antetokounmpo took extreme offense to the query.
“To guard him? No, I didn’t,” he replied.
“Why would you ask that? I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do.”
Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on whether he asked to switch onto Heat’s Jimmy Butler during late-game explosion: “To guard him? No, I didn’t. Why would you ask that? I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do.” pic.twitter.com/IFpR5pk1s1
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 1, 2020
It was an odd reaction to a fairly innocuous question, and multiple NBA players took notice.
“As a competitor and DPOY that’s your job to take that assignment,” Isaiah Thomas tweeted out.
“I know Marcus smart, Avery Bradley, kawhi woulda been like FOH I’m guarding him.
As a competitor and DPOY that’s your job to take that assignment. I know Marcus smart, Avery Bradley, kawhi woulda been like FOH I’m guarding him. https://t.co/kEHStlPiJU
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) September 1, 2020
Thomas was not alone in his thinking. Kendrick Perkins agreed.
“Straight up,” he replied.
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) September 1, 2020
Richard Jefferson felt the same way.
He asked that cuz you are the Defensive player of the year and Jimmy just had a career high 40. My question is why did YOU ask him why did he ask that question 🤷🏽♂️🤔 https://t.co/J69zIzKOty
— Richard Jefferson (@Rjeff24) September 1, 2020
As did Channing Frye.
“Rich I was asking this all night, why if you are the best player on the court and Defensive player of the year would you not want to guard the guy BBQing the rest of your team?”
Rich I was asking this all night, why if you are the best player on the court and Defensive player of the year would you not want to guard the guy BbQing the rest of your team? https://t.co/4IBRTP6H6v
— Channing Frye (@channingfrye) September 1, 2020
In addition to all those guys, NBA insider Tim MacMahon reported on Tuesday that an NBA All-Star suggested to him “that Giannis Antetokounmpo shouldn’t be the Defensive Player of the Year because he’s not a lockdown defender who shuts down other stars.”
To be clear, Milwaukee dropping Game 1 to Miami does not mean anything. Everyone remembers this Bucks team coming back from losses against the Boston Celtics in 2019 and Orlando Magic in 2020 to win four straight and advance.
Drugs are not cheap. https://t.co/lZhVrF0bbM
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 1, 2020
It could easily happen again this year. But even if it did, that would not change the substance behind the criticism Antetokounmpo is currently facing. Star players, particularly ones recognized for their superior defense, take on the challenges of guarding the other team’s best offensive players. Kobe Bryant did it. Kawhi Leonard did it. LeBron James did it. Kevin Durant did it. The list goes on and on.
Until Antetokounmpo steps up and does that against Butler, he is going to keep getting roasted for seemingly being afraid to do so.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.