Giannis Antetokounmpo has set the standard for future superstar players in the NBA.
The smile on the face of Giannis Antetokounmpo was priceless. Especially after all the criticism about the flaws in his game; how he needs to develop a consistent jump shot, become a better free-throw shooter, and all of the playoff failures in the past.
He was largely criticized after signing a long-term extension with the Milwaukee Bucks before the season started keeping him in Milwaukee for the prime of his career. Most critics were concerned with the “what if’s” instead of what could be. What if Antetokounmpo couldn’t win with the current players on the roster? What if he made a mistake by staying loyal to a franchise that appeared to not be able to get over the hump despite their high expectations?
Well, those same critics were finally silenced as Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971 as he had the performance of his career scoring 50 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, five blocks. and going 15-17 from the free-throw line as he earned Finals MVP honors.
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Antetokounmpo accomplished it all with style, grace, and humbleness and is a player who truly deserved to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. By accomplishing this amazing feat, Antetokounmpo may be single-handedly changing the perception of NBA general managers chasing big-name free agents when they already have multiple superstar players on the roster.
The NBA wants parity and an even playing field with teams being competitive and the Bucks are the perfect example of that. By winning the 2021 NBA championship, Antetokounmpo showed that players don’t have to depart from a situation to join other superstar players in search of an easy path to a title.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put the Milwaukee Bucks on his back
No knock on LeBron James or Kevin Durant for leaving their respective franchises in order to achieve their goals because every player is different, but what Antetokounmpo did was truly amazing as he literally put the team on his back, persevered through all the adversity as he continued to work hard, with an astute championship mindset and never say die attitude without making excuses as he remained dedicated to improving and getting better even after winning the MVP award.
So, instead of leaving the small market of Milwaukee and possibly joining other stars to form a super team, Antetokounmpo stayed with the team who drafted him and after the historic showing he had in the Finals, Antetokounmpo probably just made Milwaukee a desired destination for other free agents to want to come to play with him.
Hopefully, the trend that Antetokounmpo started will catch on among other players around the league to want to remain with their original franchises, put in the necessary work, and truly earn everything they accomplish the same way Antetokounmpo did. It didn’t take long for him to quiet the naysayers as Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks overcome not one, but two 0-2 deficits in these playoffs.
When the Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall selection in the 2013 draft, they had no idea that he would be the player he is today despite having tons of potential. Antetokounmpo is living proof that NBA general managers can build and improve their teams through the draft with good coaching and player development.
He is living proof that small-market teams can be successful and win championships if the process is done correctly. The Bucks cashed their chips in on Antetokounmpo and it has already paid off earlier than anyone anticipated.
Let’s hope that these recent events lead to more superstars remaining with their original teams keeping the playing field level and hopefully ending the era of the so-called “super team.”