Another month, another Giannis Antetokounmpo comment being taken out of context. Ever since the Greek Freak ascended to stardom with the Milwaukee Bucks, there has been a fierce back and forth between local fans and the national media regarding where Giannis will continue his NBA career. That battle continues in the wake of recent comments Giannis made that, once again, are being taken out of context.
Here is the way the national media is presenting what Giannis said:
“I’m a Milwaukee Buck, but most importantly I’m a winner. … If there is a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brien I have to take that better situation.”
Giannis on his future with the Bucks. pic.twitter.com/XzucRXtmOv
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 13, 2023
See those three periods all in a row? That means there was more said, but those comments do not fit the narrative that big markets wants fans to hear. The fact of the matter is that ESPN, FanDuel, NBC, and all the major news companies want Giannis to leave Milwaukee for a bigger city.
But that’s not who Giannis is. When his comments are taken in full context, it is clear that his preference is to stay in Milwaukee as long as the Bucks are competitive:
“As long as we play, and we approach the game every single day, and we all sacrifice for a common goal, I can see my self playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for the rest of my career. But the moment I feel that people are not committed as I am to get that golden thing in the back, I am not.
“I am a Milwaukee Buck, but most importantly, I am a winner. I want to win, and I have to do whatever it takes for me to win. If there is a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brian, then I have to take that situation.”
This statement is nothing different from anything else that Giannis has said in the past. His preference is to stay in Milwaukee for his entire career, but he does not want to stay at the expense of never winning another championship. As long as the Bucks ownership group and front office put a team around him that can compete for more championships, he will stay.
And they have already started taking steps to ensure they will remain competitive and, in turn, that Giannis will decide to stay.
1. The Milwaukee Bucks Hired Adrian Griffin as Head Coach
The Bucks made the somewhat popular decision to part ways with former head coach Mike Budenholzer after top-seeded Milwaukee was eliminated by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. When it came to hiring their new head coach, they did so with Giannis in mind.
In fact, even before the hiring was announced, sources leaked that Adrian Griffin was the two-time MVP’s top-choice to be the franchise’s next head coach. Giannis, along with teammate Khris Middleton, were invited to the dinner meeting in which the ownership group and Jon Horst decided on hiring Griffin.
They got his guy.
But that is not the only reason hiring Griffin is so important for Milwaukee. One of the biggest criticisms of Budenholzer was his unwillingness and/or inability to develop young talent. Young draft picks often wasted away at the end of his bench.
With so much money tied up in Giannis, Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and other key veterans, it is important for the Bucks to be able to develop young talent that can contribute to a championship-level team. That is where Griffin comes in. He is renowned for his work developing young stars. He will help ensure that the product on the court does not suffer as years go on. Milwaukee will compete for championships for years to come under his direction.
And, of course, that means Giannis will stay.
2. Jimmy Haslam Bought Marc Lasry’s Share of the Milwaukee Bucks
If there is one thing that is true in the modern-day NBA, it is that NBA championship contenders need to spend money. Unlike their MLB counterparts, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Bucks have not had any hesitations when it comes to pouring money into their team.
That is, until recently. Former Bucks owner Marc Lasry, according to reports, was not pleased with their high payroll year in and year out. He wanted to cut costs. The rest of the ownership group, however, disagreed.
As a result, Lasry decided to sell his 25% stake in the Bucks to Jimmy Haslam, who also owns the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. While Haslam is a controversial figure, and many fans were not thrilled with deal.
But here’s the thing: to stay competitive, the Bucks need to spend money. Lasry did not want to; Haslam is worth $3 billion more than Lasry and is willing to spend. If they spend wisely, the Bucks will remain NBA title contenders.
If they remain NBA title contenders, Giannis will stay.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo Does Not Want to Leave the Milwaukee Bucks
At the risk of sounding redundant, Giannis’ most recent comments about Milwaukee, wanting to win, and possibly leaving are nothing new. He has had the same answer to the same question for years. Below is an example from an interview with GQ in 2021:
“One challenge was to bring a championship here and we did. It was very hard, but we did. Very, very hard. I just love challenges. What’s the next challenge? The next challenge might not be here. Me and my family chose to stay in this city that we all love and has taken care of us—for now. In two years, that might change. I’m being totally honest with you. I’m always honest. I love this city. I love this community. I want to help as much as possible.”
2021 was the very same year that Giannis and the Bucks won the NBA Championship! It was the first year of his extension!
And national media members were already asking him about leaving Milwaukee. Listen, Bucks fans, they want him to leave. They will spin anything he says to make it seem like he already has one foot out the door.
The fact of the matter, though, is that Giannis wants to win, and he prefers to win in Milwaukee. In an interview with CBS Sports earlier this year, he said:
“I wear my heart on my sleeve and I really appreciate people that gave my an opportunity to change my life, my parents’ life, my kids’ life. I don’t that that for granted, I don’t take that lightly. The first time I was able to leave and be a free agent and join another team, I chose to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks because they helped me, they guided my through all the processes when I was an 18-year-old.
“I will always have that in my mind and in my heart and as long as I’m healthy and as long as they want me to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks Organization, I would love to stay there.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Giannis has been saying. He is just being honest. As a professional in any industry, one wants to be the best, be the most successful, and be at the top of one’s field. Giannis wants to do that in Milwaukee. If the Bucks, though, decide they want to return to decades of mediocrity, he will leave.
And who would blame him? Bucks fans, too, have gotten a taste of winning and do not want to go back to the way things were when Herb Kohl owned the team.
No one wants that. Fans, Giannis, the front office. And that is what Giannis is saying: as long as everyone is on the same page, that winning is the most important thing, he will stay.