Giannis Antetokounmpo’s fuel pile for next season: ‘I’m tired of the disrespect’

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With his Milwaukee Bucks at home for the second round of the playoffs and absent from the NBA's -defensive teams, Giannis Antetokounmpo has a message.

He is “tired of disrespect.”

His words were delivered via Twitter on Tuesday with a photo of his glowing self in Bucks Green attached with a vow: “I'm coming.”

That's it. There is no context. No quotes. No link to critical story. No explanation of or what he is coming for. While the specific target of the message is left open to interpretation, the broad strokes are clear.

Antetokounmpo is stocking up on motivational fuel.

Take, for example, Tuesday's announcement of the NBA's all-defensive teams, which included big men Jaren Jackson Jr., Evan Mobley, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green and Bucks teammate Brook Lopez. But no Antetokounmpo, the former Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-Defensive Team member.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another message for his critics after being left off the NBA's All-Defensive Teams. (Christopher Creveling / Reuters)

Antetokounmpo – in the prime of his career and coming off an MVP finalist season – remains an elite NBA defender. But his absence from the NBA's All-Defensive Teams was inconspicuous. While he was the anchor for the Bucks unit Led the NBA in defensive ratingHe also averaged career lows in both blocks (0.8) and steals (0.8) per game.

Meanwhile, López led the league in total blocks, and voters named him and point guard Junior Holliday to the All-Defensive teams, acknowledging Milwaukee's defensive dominance. He found that other big guys around the league are more qualified than Antetokounmpo, a potential perceived slight, but not a real one.

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Tuesday's first post season award was not a snub that could stoke Antetokounmpo's fire. While he was hailed as an MVP finalist, Antetokounmpo was largely an afterthought in a conversation centered around Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. In the end, Antetokounmpo (12 first-place votes) finished third behind Embiid, who earned his first MVP with 73 first-place votes.

But perhaps more than anything, the reaction to Milwaukee's first-round playoff exit has made Antetokounmpo feel like the target of disrespect. Immediately after Milwaukee's first-round exit by the Heat, reporter Eric Nehm asked Antetokounmpo if he viewed the season as a failure. Antetokounmpo took the question personally.

“It's not a failure,” Antetokounmpo said. “It's steps to success. There are always steps to it. Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships, another nine years [were] a failure? That's what you're saying to me. ,

“Why are you asking me this question? This is the wrong question. There is no failure in sports. There are good days, there are bad days. Some days you are able to succeed. Some days you are not. Some days it is your turn. . Some days it's not your turn. And that's the game. You don't always win. Sometimes other people win. And this year someone else is going to win. Simple as that. We'll come back next year and try to be better do.

Is it fair to classify Milwaukee's season as a failure? The Bucks posted the league's best regular season record, then lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat, while managing one win in the best-of-seven series. In terms of assessing victory and defeat in professional sports, the result was clearly and absolutely a failure. Bucks management agreed and fired head coach Mike Budenholzer after his five seasons on the job.

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Antetokounmpo instead focused on the concept of failure and looked for the bigger picture. He is a two-time MVP. He's an NBA champion. he is $335 million in claims and future income secured Not including approval. He has a family with two young boys that he was proud to take to the zoo on Sunday. And that's just him.

All of his Bucks teammates, along with every player in the league, are among the best who have reached the pinnacle of their chosen profession. In those terms, to portray the Bucks – or any NBA athlete – as a failure is absurd. The mere suggestion is more fuel for Antetokounmpo.

He has been in a similar situation before. Just two seasons ago, he was a two-time MVP who failed to advance to the NBA Finals, let alone secure an NBA championship. The questions were thundering. Could he lead the Bucks to a title, or was he destined to end his career as one of the greats to retire without a ring? He answered them emphatically with the greatest Finals effort of all-time to lead the Bucks from the Phoenix to the championship.

Now, two seasons removed, the Bucks are again facing questions – some of them valid. But the game's best players and biggest winners have fueled up every chance they get. And Antetokounmpo's stacking ups light up whenever and wherever he finds them.