NBA

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks Caved Under the Pressure of Boycotts and Basketball: ‘It’s Harder to Do Both’

When the NBA season began, the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo were ready to take the league by storm. They resolved to get further in the playoffs and win it all. But as we all know, 2020 had other plans. The season was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. With the country in turmoil over racial injustice, the Bucks found it hard to concentrate on basketball.

The NBA’s hiatus

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Before play suspended, the Bucks had the best record in the NBA. Antetokounmpo had somehow elevated his play even more. It seemed like everything was in place for the team to get to the NBA finals. Then the season was postponed for a few months. When basketball resumed in July, Milwaukee had to rekindle that magic in a spectator-free stadium.

Challenges amassed from the start. A few players tested positive for COVID-19. Then America fell apart due to the effects of police brutality and racism. Some of the Bucks even questioned playing in Disney World’s bubble as the world was on edge. The Bucks sat out of a first-round playoff game against Orlando to protest the police shooting of a Wisconsin Black man.

Antetokounmpo told The New York Times that playing basketball and trying to support social justice was a challenge:

“Obviously, it’s hard to balance those two. We chose as a team to do both. Is it harder to do both? Yes, it’s harder to do both. But that’s what we chose as a team, to stand up for something that’s bigger than basketball, to stand up for something that we believe, and at the same time play basketball. But it’s not easy.”

The Milwaukee Bucks make the playoffs

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks exits the game | Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

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The team made it to the playoffs and faced the Orlando Magic in the first round. After initially losing the first game, they turned it around and won the series. However, that’s where their luck ended. In the second round, the team faced the Miami Heat and lost in five games.

The tough series dealt the Bucks a blow when Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle in Game 3. He reinjured it in Game 4 and finally sat out completely in Game 5. But critics won’t cite Antetokounmpo’s injury as the only reason for the Bucks loss. They claim that although the squad has talent, they aren’t utilizing it to lift the team and make Antetokounmpo better.

The best regular-season record won’t mean much if the team doesn’t come through in the playoffs. Similar to LeBron James’ days in Cleveland, Antetokounmpo is just as dominant as James was in the regular season, but both teams lacked the finishing touches to get that championship title.

The Bucks move forward

With the season now over for the Bucks, all eyes are on Antetokounmpo‘s future. Set for free agency in 2021, the Bucks don’t want to lose him and are considering all options to keep him on the team. Due to their lack of success in the playoffs, it’s become apparent that the team needs players around Antetokounmpo that can elevate his game and win big in the postseason. 

However, it seems that Antetokounmpo is willing to give the Bucks another chance. MSN reports that he plans to stay for one more season to make another championship run. If that’s the case, the organization will need to make a few changes in order to put together a solid team capable of making it deep into the playoffs.