As the Philadelphia Processers formed a phalanx behind the podium, star players addressed (or didn’t address) their vaccination records and others dug a musical knife into the back of their superiors, it was all smiles at the Milwaukee Bucks media day. Heck, even the owners got to dodge almost any and all criticism after plunging into their pocketbooks to pay the tax this season. Yes, any sharpened edges from past media days felt as smooth as ol’ Larry B on Monday.
The greatest trick of NBA media days is how well it sells itself as “fun.” Thankfully, a quick Twitter timeline scroll can provide the “fun” in a flash, sparing you of the platitude parade and “build yourself up by the bootstraps” talk that makes up most of these loooong sessions. On a day mostly meant to celebrate the team’s past accomplishments, we had very little of the tension. Recall, if you will, the fervor over Coach Bud’s “Championship or bust” comment last season. Add in the fact Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract situation remained unsettled at that point, on top of an upsetting flameout to the Heat in round two, and last year’s media sessions had all the ingredients for something spicy.
This year felt pretty saccharine, and while I’ve pledged to ride the Good Vibes this team’s championship afforded for years to come, it certainly made for a slightly duller media days to discuss. Still, there were a few news and note I thought were worthwhile. Notably, the only time things did feel serious were discussions related to vaccination status. Let’s lead with that.
- Marc Lasry set the tone with his comment that the “vast majority of the team is vaccinated.” Of course, that does not mean all, but everyone after him basically fell in lockstep with that talking point.
- From a player standpoint, the most important revelation (and I believe the only player to actively admit this) was that Giannis Antetokounmpo did get vaccinated. In fairness, I also think he might’ve been the only person asked outright if he was vaccinated.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: I did what was best for me and my family to stay protected.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 27, 2021
Yes, I am vaccinated.
- Most every other player responded to comments about whether they were getting resources or feeling actively informed about vaccination, probably in response to this Rolling Stone piece about anti-vax misinformation spreading through the Union. There was a lot of getting the information and then “making the best decision for my family” onstage.
- You know it’s a happy day when FLED are able to crack wise repeatedly during their session. As well they should I suppose, they helped lead this team to a championship, they’re paying the tax like we all asked; if there’s ever a year they should escape most scrutiny, this was it. If you’re wondering what jokes you missed, Wes Edens riffed that Aston Villa parties should be held at the Deer District along with Brewers and Packers; he also jokingly said he hopes Giannis and Khris’s forays into team ownership make them more empathetic at the negotiating table next time. You kinda had to be there...
- I wish there was more, but the only other notable exchange I felt came when they were asked whether their losses were greater or less than the 10% the NBA advertised as the average lost in revenue from the 2019-20 season. Wes Edens seemed to play coy, commenting he’s not sure those numbers are public before Marc Lasry interjected that their losses were higher. The group mentioned not just the loss of gameday receipts as a key loss on the ledger, but also the inability to host any other events in the stadium. As someone always intrigued by the inner workings of FLED’s sanctum, the fact Lasry said that so declaratively was interesting — and a smart PR move.
Coach Bud and Jon Horst
- Well, there were far fewer bulletin board pieces from this duo’s session onstage. Tactically, I didn’t get all that much from their discussion either, outside of Horst once again reiterating they were looking for positional size with some of their free agent acquisitions. There were also discussion of Semi Ojeleye playing the five, essentially in line with our expectations that he’s their nominal PJ Tucker replacement.
- These all went basically as you would expect, although Giannis’s conference at the very end was the most entertaining and insightful. He also, understandably, fielded the most questions. In short, Planet Pat orbited Planet Platitude. Rodney Hood is happy to be there. Jrue and Khris were overjoyed by their golden summer, even as they got rearing to go after a short offseason. The list goes on.
- George Hill being back was pleasant, and he basically chocked up the transaction last year to “business” and mentioned how getting Jrue was an obvious opportunity the franchise had to take. As if the signing didn’t already make this clear, it seems they’ve patched up whatever bad blood might’ve still been boiling in that relationship. He also talked about the benefits of having guards like him, Jrue and Donte, none of whom are “traditional” point guards but can all still function on the court.
- Grayson Allen was once again asked to answer for his college sins, and I’ll admit, his answer was pretty solid. The premise of the question was basically whether it’s still valid for people to be asking him about it, to which he promptly told the reporter that he just did so...it was a good response. In reality, I actually appreciated him speaking about his defensive ability, which he felt took a huge leap last year in Memphis. He admitted that he was bad at it in college, so I’m curious to see how it manifests in Milwaukee.
- In terms of tangible news, Donte DiVincenzo is apparently still not participating in 5-on-5’s (S/O Eric Nehm for asking him that directly) so I’d expect he may be out for awhile longer. That was the most notable news of the day.
While I poke fun at media day being, you know, “fun,” there are still bright spots that shine through. If you’d rather not do that cursory Twitter scroll, here are some of my favorite standouts:
Brook and Robin antics truly never get old.
I had this same take about Jordan Nwora after subjecting myself to all his Summer League minutes...but I feel closer to Jrue than ever...
Semi Ojeleye is friggin' JACKED pic.twitter.com/QMpZm6kuOS— Bradshaw (@omgbradshaw) September 27, 2021
Kane teed up some of the better answers on the day with his questions. Good on ya.
"Please, the US government, please, Kane Pitman's a big part of what we do here, who we are. Please let him in the country."— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) September 27, 2021
A real quote from Giannis on media day
The day ended appropriately with Giannis mentioning his mindset though, one of never truly being satisfied and constantly finding ways to build motivation on the court. For a session filled with reflection, it was a fitting way to re-focus on the daunting task that awaits.