Can you hear it? Can you hear the sounds of constant posturing and positing about Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks? If you have a functional internet connection, you no doubt have experienced the downside of the Bucks’ newfound spotlight these days, which has ramped up even further as we draw nearer to tonight’s national broadcast of a showdown against LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers.
“Do players want to stay in small markets?” the great Jackie MacMullan asks the panel. She says litmus test is Giannis this summer.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 6, 2020
Stephen A: “I’m told if he doesn’t get to the Finals, he’s leaving. I don’t know if that’s true or not.” #ssac2020
Last season, I did this for Giannis vs. Harden. This season, there’s less of an MVP race but here are Giannis and LeBron’s Heisman Moments: https://t.co/vrqM7TbneX— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) March 6, 2020
It goes on, and on, and on and on and on from there. It doesn’t matter what the context is, the content is the same: Giannis and the Bucks are constantly questionable, and those questions have compelling, albeit unlikely, answers.
You can’t talk about one without the other, despite national media types and jealous fanbases wanting to firmly divorce one from the other. Giannis is not just the best player in the league, but he’s the best player in the sport by a mile, and he has the profile and hypothetical-longevity to enter himself into the conversation about the greatest players of all time. But because of this, and his presence in small market Milwaukee, the massive machine that drives manufactured debate fueled by arguments made in bad faith churns out takes like the ones you’ve seen above, or on your TV screens, or while scrolling your timeline on Twitter.
Wisconsin benefits by Giannis’ presence in Milwaukee, but no one else does. On the flip side, everyone involved in selling their viewers’ field of vision to advertisers benefits by generating content customized to question the premise of the present.
“FORMER NBA ALL-STAR CLAIMS THAT GIANNIS SHOULD WANT TO TEST FREE AGENCY! SEE WHAT HE SAID NOW!”
“THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS ARE PAPER TIGERS: CLICK HERE FOR MORE!”
“YOUR FAVORITE TEAM CAN TRADE FOR THE NBA MVP IF THIS EXTREMELY NARROW SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES COMES TO PASS! WATCH THIS VIDEO TO LEARN HOW!”
It’s been the same song, all season long, and it’s a chart-topper. The only way to root out this ear worm is to to avoid gifting engagement to the sources of such nonsense. Because the track is going to continue to get airplay, not just in spite of your protests, but because of them.
I say this knowing full well that I’m guilty of the same thing. But the best way to move past the deluge of takes, hot or otherwise, is to simply avoid engaging with them. Because whether or not you click the “retweet” button to spell out an articulate counter-argument, or simply write “lol ur a clown bro”...you’re still amplifying the message. Amplifying the noise, in an already cacophonous world.
Just scroll right past, at least through the thick of it. It’s just about an hour until Giannis and the Bucks play LeBron and the Lakers, so you know that there’s going to be analysis and discussion and debate put out there, some of it quality and some of it not, and all of it is jockeying for your attention. Don’t pay it, if you can stand it. It might feel like money burning a hole in your pocket, but the payoff of withholding your reactions will eventually snuff out the flaming-hot takes that are sure to be churned out after this game, regardless of the result.
Besides, the best way to shut it down is for the team to prove it, and prove it where it matters most. No matter what anybody says, the Milwaukee Bucks are a pretty likely candidate to do exactly that in June, and Giannis has given every indication that he’s willing to stick around for the long haul. If dealing with the nonsense polluting the airwaves and timelines now is the price of admission, then I say that sounds like quite the bargain indeed.