Last year's championship run of the Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpo is the perfect blueprint on how to go all the way while remaining true to your team and fans. After all the disappointing playoff exits and questions, The Bucks would finally click and fulfill their potential. Led by their drafted superstar, original core team, long-term head coach, and a couple of perfect additions, the Bucks finally pushed through and brought the trophy to the city of Milwaukee after a 50-year drought. A historic moment, with their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the spotlight. His loyalness and love for the city are well known, but that doesn't mean "The Greek Freak" will be a Buck for life.
Shaky start to the title defense
The ring ceremony and opening game versus Brooklyn looked like a statement that this team is back even stronger and scarier. But then a series of unfortunate events would hit the Bucks. Most of their key players got sidelined with injuries and Covid cases, as guys like Brook Lopez, Kris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo, and more missed or are still missing time.
Coach Budenholzer has used this time to shuffle the rotations a bit and try out some new pieces. That has led to pretty inconsistent play from the Bucks, who are sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 7-8 record. Nobody is really panicking, but it is obvious they need to pick it up. The Eastern Conference has shown a lot of depth and quality this season, as the Bucks will not have an easy task coming out of their conference or defending the title for that sake.
Is the face of loyalty in the NBA moving on?
It is hard to find many NBA fans that had a problem with the Bucks winning it all. After all, it is a rare story in today's NBA that a team persevers through numerous disappointing playoff exits, only to win it all led by the superstar they drafted, developed, and created into one of the best in the league. Also, from Giannis's perspective, it was admirable to stick it out with his team in the small market of Milwaukee rather than joining other stars in a big market.
That earned Antetokounmpo immense respect amongst NBA fans, as he finally added that elusive championship to the numerous personal accolades, solidifying his spot amongst NBA greats at just 26 years old. It's hard to imagine him playing anywhere else, but a recent interview with GQ could definitely spark your imagination.
In a huge piece, GQ presented us with a huge article about Giannis's life on and off the court, fashion, and plans for the future. One of the most interesting parts that caught the attention of fans revolves around overcoming the challenge of bringing a championship to Milwaukee and looking for the next one without ruling out the possibility of doing it somewhere else:
"In the end, Giannis decided to stay in Milwaukee because it was difficult. And then, improbably, the Bucks won. "One challenge was to bring a championship here, and we did," he told me. "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." It's not that he doesn't love Milwaukee, he said. But he was always wary of things becoming too easy. "Me and my family chose to stay in this city that we all love and has taken care of us—for now," Giannis said. "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."
You can interpret this in more ways than one, but I'm pretty sure this is simply revolved around Giannis's insatiable desire to compete. Antetokonmpo is a different breed, as he simply doesn't take days off. After getting the taste of glory, Giannis will want it every year now, as just being good and competing won't be enough to keep him happy for the rest of his career.
Antetokounmpo wants to be playing for championships year in and year out, whether with the Bucks or some other team. But I'm pretty sure that the Bucks will surround Giannis with great teams, as long as he is there. After all, these kinds of transcendent players don't come often. You have to get the best of them.