Giannis Antetokounmpo was offered a max contract extension by the Bucks. He accepted that offer and will stay in Milwaukee, despite the Warriors romancing him from afar because they’re desperate to return to the top of the league. But logic matters more than fantasy. The reason Giannis stays in Milwaukee is that he has not yet reached fatigue and unhappiness. He’s the reigning MVP. The Bucks had the best record in the NBA and were the favorites to get to the NBA Finals. Their Heat flameout exposed all of their flaws; they signed Jrue Holiday to become a tougher team, got rid of Eric Bledsoe who was a liability. If they are not the favorites in the East, they will be 1A. The system that Mike Budenholzer has crafted for Giannis and the Bucks is perfectly designed to fit Antetokoumpo’s strengths. What’s there to be disgruntled about?
Failure hasn’t walloped Giannis over the head yet. Michael Jordan was 27 years old and a 7-time All-Star before he finally won a title. LeBron James was 28 years old and an 8-time All-Star before he finally won a title. Kevin Durant was 28 years old and an 8-time All-Star before he won a title.
Giannis has been an All-Star for 4 years. It’s a great accomplishment but losing hasn’t yet dragged him into the pit of despair. He is only 26 years old. Too young to be pessimistic. He is still grooving off of optimism, his MVP, the Bucks offense and defense, and being better than last year. Not to mention watching the Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance”, has given Giannis a blueprint on how to manage this part of his career. Yes, he can stay put and manage all the struggles to get to the top. The documentary showcases how consistently committed Michael Jordan was and more importantly how he played the long game.
Of course, that is not what Warrior fan wants to hear. The Andrew Wiggins trade, in part, was to have something to lure the Bucks with in case Giannis wanted out. But Wiggins is hardly equal value and it was a near-impossible ask to pull Giannis out of Milwaukee. Giannis isn’t a team jumper like Durant or LeBron. He’s a house builder like Tim Duncan.
When pressed, Giannis has indicated he wants to be considered the greatest player of all time. He has all the intangibles. High IQ. Quick hands. Silky shot. Long and athletic. Strong defender. He needs more perimeter shooting reps and consistency over time. But the desire is the thing. Best ever means he has a goal he is working towards.
In the spring, Giannis had his social media accounts hacked and garbage began spewing right and left. The only common thread with all the tweets was the Warriors. Whoever hacked his account said Giannis was going to the Warriors. And said LeBron James hired a hitman for him. And that the Bucks called Giannis n—-er when he didn’t score 60. (He’s never scored 60.) And that Khris Middleton couldn’t shoot.
All the pejoratives aside, it sounded eerily like Warrior fan was making a case for Antetokounmpo joining the Warriors. Except. The Warriors had an Antetokounmpo look-alike in Kevin Durant and Warrior fan couldn’t park his Steph Curry love and shower Durant with the slavish attention he needs. Why exactly would Antetokounmpo want to sign with the Warriors anyway?
He has a better chance of winning in the East. The West has all the iconic stars. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard. James Harden, temporarily. Luka Doncic. Damian Lillard. Steph Curry. Karl-Anthony Towns. Every night you are playing a team that has a future Hall of Famer in residence. And with the exception of Dallas and Utah, the West stars are experienced. The East is still a young league with a lot of bad teams the Bucks can feast off of. They have no peer.
This too. In 2021 certain Warriors will be at the back end of their prime. Steph will be 33. Klay will be 31. Same with Draymond Green. The Warriors will not have won a title in three years. Does hooking up with old veterans when you are 27 sound like a good business decision?
Because the Warriors were given a taste of success with three titles in five years and want it to continue, their fans are greedy and feel entitled. No one wants to look in the mirror and acknowledge it’s a long road ahead. Kevin Durant changed their organization and now it’s back to the drawing board. Scout well, develop talent and for the love of God pray Steph doesn’t sustain another injury.
Giannis ain’t walking through that door. Better come up with a Plan B.