The Bucks’ 2021 NBA championship, capped by a 50-point series-clinching effort in Game 6, settled every question about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ability to lead a team in the playoffs. Following his early exit in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, Antetokounmpo received the same criticisms about how he wasn’t as efficient or effective in the postseason when opponents created a wall in front of him and Milwaukee’s shooters didn’t hit shots.
Many speculated if Giannis would sign his supermax or risk leaving Milwaukee this summer by entering free agency, but Antetokounmpo put pen to paper and, for the time being, relieved all of the Bucks fans’ and organization’s anxiety. To then win the title in his first season after signing seemed like not only a win for the Bucks, but also an important moment for smaller cities around the league to demonstrate that stars can win without having to partner up with another great.
After Game 6, Giannis remarked about how he could’ve chosen the “easy path” by joining a superteam, but instead chose to do what he promised, which was to do everything he could to help Milwaukee win a championship. Giannis was still celebrating his victory and the fact that he didn’t have to chase that elusive ring to another city on Monday night, posting a not-so-subtle string of photos on his Instagram story of four legends who won their first championship with the team that drafted them with the caption “Mood.”
Antetokounmpo is going to rightfully talk his talk and posting Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kobe Bryant is quite the message about how he feels about getting things done in Milwaukee.
While many saw this as a statement to others that sticking it out rather than bolting for a superteam can pay off, the Bucks also had to show their commitment to Giannis by going all-in on a championship bid this summer with the acquisition of Jrue Holiday. The message can’t be that players should be blindly loyal, but that it is feasible to assemble a championship squad around a great player no matter where you are with a financial commitment from a “small market” team (they’re all owned by billionaires).