Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best players in the NBA. As such, his future with the NBA’s smallest market is constantly in question. The closer the Bucks and Giannis come to the end of a contract, the more rumors swirl that the superstar will leave for greener pastures.
It does not help that Giannis’ words and commitment to winning are consistently taken out of context and spun to convey something that is not necessarily true. It happened back in 2020 up until the two-time MVP signed his first super-max extension. After he signed, it died down for a few years, but now that he is eligible to sign another one, old rumors have begun anew.
A recent interview Giannis did with The New York Times is now the talk of social media and the sports world in general. Specifically, people are choosing to focus on one particular quote in which Giannis explains the only scenario in which he would not stay with Milwaukee. The problem is that it is being taken out of context and it is no different from anything he has said in the past before signing his first super-max.
Milwaukee Bucks Star Giannis Antetokounmpo Has 1 Goal: Win Another NBA Championship
Here is the quote that has gone viral on social media and what most content creators and journalists have chosen to focus on:
“But at the end of the day, being a winner, it’s over that goal,” he said. “Winning a championship comes first. I don’t want to be 20 years on the same team and don’t win another championship.”
Obviously, the implication is that if the Bucks decided that they are going to go into rebuild mode, the Greek Freak wants no part of it. He built a Championship culture in Milwaukee. If the team decides to dismantle that culture, his legacy, then he will not re-sign.
That is understandable. However, it sounds threatening. That is where the importance of context comes in. Here is what he said immediately before that quote:
“This is my team, and it’s going to forever be my team. I don’t forget people that were there for me and allowed me to be great and to showcase who I am to the world and gave me the platform. But we have to win another one.”
Now this statement, combined with the other one that is being taken by itself and twisted, makes his true message very clear: Giannis will sign another extension with the Bucks if they are committed to winning another NBA Championship.
And this is nothing new! Here is a quote from an interview Giannis did with GQ in 2021, a year after signing his contract:
“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.”
Again: Giannis loves Milwaukee. He wants to be a Buck. But winning comes first. As long as the Bucks are committed to winning another title, he will stay.
Back on March 31 of this year, Giannis said this to CBS Sports:
“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.”
The message should be clear: Giannis does NOT want to leave Milwaukee. He wants to win, and he wants to win in Milwaukee. That being said, winning comes first. As long as the Bucks are committed to winning, Giannis will stay. If they decide to enter a rebuild, he will not. It’s that simple.
Fortunately, the Bucks have not shown any signs of nearing or even considering a rebuild. They fired head coach Mike Budenholzer because they want to win another title. Adrian Griffin, the new head coach, was Giannis’ top choice after meeting with the final three candidates one-on-one himself.
Milwaukee also re-signed Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton to multi-year deals and brought in high-level role players to round out their roster. Now, the Bucks have their Championship core intact while also having a younger roster than they have had in years.
2023-24 will be an important season for the Bucks and Giannis. He is not signing an extension this summer, even though he is eligible to, because it would not make financial sense for the team. If Milwaukee proves to Giannis (and the NBA) that they can win more titles by how they play and grow as a team this season, he will sign that extension in 2024.
Oh, and the Bucks have some of the best odds of winning the NBA Championship this season. If they do, the next Giannis extension will be icing on the cake. If they don’t win, but show they are going to remain in contention for another title, the next Giannis extension will be a nice consolation prize.
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