What Giannis Antetokounmpo wanted from the Milwaukee Bucks organization was the same commitment to winning a title he feels he puts in. He got the answer he wanted — the Bucks re-signed two core players in Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, moved on from one coach and hired the guy Antetokounmpo wanted (Adrian Griffin), then in a swing-for-the-fences move traded for Damian Lillard. It doesn’t get more committed than that.
On the day Antetokounmpo and Lillard take the court for the first time together — in a preseason game against the Lakers Sunday — Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape released a Q&A with Antetokounmpo where he discusses the rumors he will bolt Milwaukee to chase a ring elsewhere.
“I always envisioned myself to be in Milwaukee for a long time… But at the end of the day, before loyalty, winning comes first. We are judged on winning. I’m a winner. I want to win. And the words that I say, I feel like sometimes they’ve been taken out of proportion because I’ve said these words for four or five, six years now. And I don’t know why it’s different this time. It is different when your extension comes around…
But when your extension comes around, it’s like, ‘Oh, he might leave.’ No, no, no. It’s not the case. I want the best possible team. I want to wake up every single day when I come to work and know that I have a chance to win. And I want the organization to be on the same page and not to be comfortable because we won one Antetokounmpo talks Lillard addition, rumors he could bolt Bucks.
One source in another front office — a team that would pursue Antetokounmpo if he became available — told NBC Sports the conventional thinking now is that Antetokounmpo will grab the largest bag in NBA history and re-sign with Milwaukee next summer (unless things unexpected go sideways with the Bucks this season). However, a few years down the line, when this roster ages out, he may look to be on the move to another contender while still in his prime.
The reason he stays is that he can win with Lillard.
It’s a blessing to have opportunity to play with a guy that is built from the same cloth as you. A guy that is a killer [as a basketball player]. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s been good for so many years in the league, dominating the league. And having a guy that you can go to war with every single day that wants it as bad as you want, it is always a good feeling… But being with him, we have a chance. We have a legit chance to do something great here. And I’m excited for what the future holds, but we got to take it a step at a time.”
They do have a legitimate chance. The Bucks’ front office did their part, they showed the commitment that Antetokounmpo wanted. Now it’s on the players and new coach to make it work.