Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP, the centerpiece to the Milwaukee Bucks, and one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Even though the Bucks are current contenders, it seems as though many are trying to book him a ticket out of town as soon as he has the opportunity.
Attempts to do so, however, may be premature. While Antetokounmpo could leave the city of Milwaukee eventually, it would appear as though the city holds a special place in his heart.
Concerns in Milwaukee
A case study by Harvard Professor Anita Elberse quoted Antetokounmpo in a way that could concern the basketball fans in Wisconsin. When speaking about the Bucks rise from fringe playoff team to contender, Elberse quoted him as saying that his decision to stay will depend on the team’s success while he is there.
“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” said Antetokounmpo according to Elberse. “So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re under-performing in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.”
It caused shockwaves through NBA circles, with teams like the Lakers, Knicks, and Clippers salivating at the chance to pry one of the league’s best players at the first chance they get. Antetokounmpo, however, has dismissed the wording used, saying that he would never have said things in the way they were reported.
“As I said, the last — what is it called quote, paragraph — it’s words that I didn’t use,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “Underperforming or whether or deciding, all those words I’ve never used in my life. As I said, I’m not going to talk about it. There are going to be stories that come out — I said that, I said this — but I’m not going to get into it at all.”
The fact is that Antetokounmpo holds a special place in the city’s heart, and the city does the same in his.
Giannis Antetokounmpo in Wisconsin
Antetokounmpo was not a surefire star like a LeBron James or Anthony Davis. Instead, he was a mid-round draft pick who had to prove his place in the NBA. Because of this, Milwaukee has been by his side since he was a bench player as a rookie, and they’ve watched him grow into the superstar he is today. There is a certain glamor to playing in the league’s biggest markets, but there is also a glamor in playing like a place in Milwaukee.
While large market teams are often waiting for the next superstar, small-market fans tend to have a more intimate relationship with their stars. One fan, Fred Kaems, painted a mural of Antetokounmpo to show the city’s appreciation.
It is acts like this one that hasn’t gone unnoticed to Antetokounmpo. While many players speak in vague platitudes when discussing their futures, Antetokounmpo speaks as someone who wants to see what they have going on through.
Speaking about the Lakers, in particular, Giannis told Colin Cowherd that his goal is to win in Milwaukee, not Los Angeles, but his love for Milwaukee stretches far beyond basketball.
Giannis Antetokounmpo in the community
Antetokounmpo has been no stranger when it comes to giving back to the community in Milwaukee. From food drives to appearances promoting causes around the city and state, Antetokounmpo has been an approachable face for the fans of the Milwaukee Bucks. Last Thanksgiving, he partnered with the Bucks and a local charity to donate $50,000 to the needy people of Milwaukee.
Growing up in a place where he did not always know where he was going to eat, Antetokounmpo knows what it is like to struggle. Milwaukee has provided a new home for him, and he seems genuinely appreciative of what the city has done for him.
Whether he leaves or not, Antetokounmpo has shown that he and Milwaukee have a special bond, and it is touching to see a city and player exist so closely.