Where do I begin with this? For years on end, any time the Milwaukee Bucks were mentioned, it was to invalidate their success or to mention that their best player should and will leave. This ranged from the trolls on Reddit and Twitter, fans (both Bucks’ fans and other fanbases) to NBC affiliates of other NBA teams, to the national sports media like ESPN, The Ringer and the sorts. In a small market especially, it is already stressful enough hoping that your team can win a championship. It is already stressful hoping your team can even assemble a roster that has a chance. Adding in outside noise meant that eventually, you would be worn down and your enjoyment as a fan would fade; years and years of having that joy taken away when you simply wanted to watch your transcendent talent was always the struggle Bucks fans faced.
But that has been the reality Milwaukee Bucks fans have dealt with since 2017, when Woj went on a podcast and said the clock was ticking. Two years later, mere minutes after Milwaukee was eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, Malika Andrews followed it up by insinuating that Milwaukee HAD to make the finals to truly convince Giannis to stay. The next season a pandemic hit, and Milwaukee was eliminated in the second round. Things looked grim and Jon Horst had to figure out how to pick up the shattered pieces.
The last two offseasons put Jon Horst in a situation where he had to accomplish two goals:
- Build a title contending squad.
- Build a squad that would encourage Giannis to stay.
Sometimes that meant making decisions that did not help in a basketball sense (i.e. Pat Connaughton and Thanasis Antetkounmpo’s contracts) but it also led to Milwaukee making the moves it needed to be a title contender (Monroe for Bledsoe trade, Delly/Henson for Hill, Bledsoe for Jrue). Overall, Horst had one of the toughest jobs in the NBA in trying to not letting the greatest player in franchise history leave. Mission accomplished. Now, he can focus solely on continuing to build a contending quality roster.
For Bucks fans, the 15th of December will be one of the only good days of 2020. It was the day they were able to make jokes at all the trolls that photoshopped Giannis into their teams’ jerseys. It was the day they can laugh at ESPN trying to come to terms with the fact that Giannis decided to stay in Milwaukee. Enjoy days like these Bucks fans, because this decision to sign the extension showed that Milwaukee can and is a place a superstar wants to be with the right environment surrounding it. This was the day Bucks fans can feel that burden and tension ease and see the dark cloud finally disappear.