Could you even imagine Giannis Antetokounmpo at 5 am in a strip club showing off a gun?
Heavy is the Hat that Wears the Crown
Ja Morant, the 23 year old NBA star point guard has made some poor choices. After the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Denver Nuggets he decided to blow off some steam and party. Hard. Stripers, drugs, booze, guns… all of it.
Then, at around 5am, he decided to put it all on social media, on Instagram Live. In the background you can see his friends along with two women in some explicitly sexual positions. He spins around the room, lets out a loud cheer, and lets the world know that he is living his best life.
Now, per reports, Morant is looking at a minimum 2 game suspension. He also decided that showing the world either his gun or his friend’s gun was a good idea. Much of the focus on this strip club incident has revolved around the brandishing of that gun and not the strippers or the drugs or the booze or the timing of it all.
Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has been suspended for at least two games.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 4, 2023
For Ja Morant, this has been something that was not done in isolation. There have been signs. In Indiana his crew was investigated for pointing a red laser at members of the Pacers. Last summer Morant was accused of holding down a 17 yr old and waiving a gun at him. Around Morant, things are only enabled. His agent was quoted as saying, “Any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated.” Morant’s agent Jim Tanner then continued by saying, “This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”
Of course where there is smoke, there tends to be fire.
Meanwhile at 5am I can only imagine Giannis Antetokounmpo and his two sons and longtime girlfriend peacefully sleeping. He was probably weary from traveling back from Nashville where he and his team invested in a minority ownership stake in a professional soccer team.
The juxtaposition is more than striking.
It is just another example of how lucky we are to have Giannis Antetokounmpo. His value and his greatness is more than simple performance of the court. He values what we value in Wisconsin: fun, family, good honest competition and peace.
Giannis vs Rodgers: Different Types of “News”
Comparing the greatness of athletes across sports is difficult because, well, different accomplishments mean different things.
Aaron Rodgers dominates the sports landscapes and headlines. He goes and sits in a cave for three days and is written about constantly. He dates _______ and we all gossip. Rodgers may play; he may not. He may get traded, he may not. We all sit and watch and write and wonder.
Related: Rodgers and McAfee Related: Rodgers and Caves
Rodgers has won four NFL MVP awards. He won one in 2011, one in 2014, and then won one in 2020 and 2021. He had led the Packers to one Super Bowl, which they won.
Peyton Manning is the only other player to win more than three NFL MVP awards. Rodgers is an accomplished player. The 39 yr old has some individual accomplishments that rival the greats. Rodgers is a great player.
So is Giannis. Giannis has won two MVP awards. He is also one of three players in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the year and league MVP. Giannis has also helped the Bucks win one Championship. He is a monster in so many statistical categories. Antetokounmpo has 34 career triple doubles. The late and great Kobe Bryant had 21 career triple doubles. Michael Jordan had 28 career triple doubles.
However, the 28 year old has never won an NBA scoring title. In the 2017 season he was 4th overall, in the 2018 NBA season he was 3rd in scoring, the same season he won an MVP award. In 2019 he was 5th in scoring; he had that same result in 2020.
Giannis may never win a scoring title. That is simply because he puts team and wins over those individual accomplishments many other superstar NBA players covet. He does not tend to shoot, just to shoot.
In any Rodgers vs Giannis debate, the individual accolades matter. But again, Giannis is only 28. And we never seem to read or hear the unusual things Giannis does. Maybe his yearly vacation to Greece includes a bunch of ayahuasca or an ayahuasca retreat?
The reality is Rodgers has never had a set of pastoral values that Antetokounmpo has.
Giannis vs the field
Giannis owns a small stake in the Milwaukee Brewers. It is hard to debate who the greatest Brewer of all-time is, but we’ll throw out some names.
Hank Aaron probably has Giannis in terms of a major individual accomplishment. Aaron’s 755 career home runs separate him out from so many others. Giannis has the defensive player of the year award/MVP double. But for Giannis to come through with some type of major statical accomplishment (top three all-time in scoring or all-time rebounding leader) Giannis ranks 129 all-time in rebounding and 119 all-time in scoring. If Giannis were to, say, be number one there than that would eclipse 755 career homers.
Robin Yount was a two time MVP. The 3x All-Star is in the MLB hall of fame. Certainly a “Giannis vs Yount” debate is a worthy one. The Brewers at their 1982 World Series run provided Wisconsin sports fans with some magical memories.
These debates are good and fun. So is a Suzy Favor-Hamilton debate or a Ron Dayne debate or a Dick Bennett debate. These are all really accomplished athletes and coaches who had done amazing things.
When we take time to compare Giannis, his values and his greatness to others, we really do end up in some rarified air.
After the loss to the Sixers (133-130) Saturday night, Giannis wasn’t out on Old World 3rd street drinking. He wasn’t on a limo ride out to Silk Exotic, getting ready to “blow off some steam”. No, Giannis was back out on the court shooting free throws. And then he sat in front of his locker and answered questions.
Watching the Antetokounmpo family film “Rise” is an amazing experience. It is a feel good movie at a time when the world needs feel good movies. It espoused values that are American and good. To value family, to value loyalty and friendship are all things we should all aspire to do.
Pastoral values are just that: values in hard-work and honesty. For Giannis and the Bucks, to get him to talk trash in a national interview, the writers of “The Daily Show” had to write the trash talk. And then he apologized. Smiled. It simply is not who he is.
People tried to make it a big deal. But in the end, it simply wasn’t. For an NBA All-Star captain, an honor meaning you are one of two of the best basketball players in the world, Giannis needed someone to create and write drama for him.
Game knows game and great ball players know great ball players. But when one of the world’s greatest ball players is out until 5am, showing off his gun and his drugs and his booze it gives you pause. And it gives us a nice reminder that right now you can watch Wisconsin’s greatest all-time living athlete ever, right now. Go catch a game at the Fiserv, tune into Bally’s Sports or watch “Rise” on Disney Plus.
We continue to watch and we continue to take for granted that at the core of the NBA’s greatest player is a set of values that is founded on hard work and doing things the right way. We have Wisconsin’s greatest athlete right here, right in front of us right now. Let’s not take that, collectively, for granted.
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