At the risk of giving something oxygen that it absolutely doesn’t deserve, local Greek man Giannis Antetokounmpo has, in fact, gone and done it again. Much like the rising and setting of the sun or the inevitable heat death of the universe at large, every summer Giannis has a habit of making an off-the-cuff statement to a media outlet nobody has ever heard of (or will hear from again) about how maybe, just maybe, one day he’ll be a Sacramento King or something.
For Bucks fans, this has become a ritual — for the rest of the dolts that make up basketball’s global fandom (who quite obviously have very little insight into Antetokounmpo as an individual) this is a novelty they can jump all over because, hey, some other dork “superstars” jumped ship before and oh my how fun that all turned out when they fell short and we viciously turned our rhetorical knives on them.
I present to you, fine readers of Brew Hoop, the truly tedious 30 second clip that has the third largest city in America aflame with delusion:
That is a clip of Giannis Antetokounmpo answering questions at a press conference assembled to announce his investment and sponsorship of an Israeli Telehealth startup company (???). For reasons that are unclear to anyone who has an ounce of shame, someone who purportedly makes a living posing questions to notable figures decided to waste maybe the only opportunity they’ll ever have of “interviewing” Giannis by lobbing the idea of playing for the Bulls at him.
Ah yes, the Chicago Bulls.
A franchise known best for doing absolutely nothing of note in the quarter century since Michael Jordan retired. The place where Jimmy Butler’s egocentrism bloomed into full-blown megalomania while leading them to a grand total of two Eastern Conference semifinals and a scintillating eighth place finish in his final season before everyone realized they were too sorry a franchise to build a winner around him. A team who hired Fred Hoiberg and then left him in charge for more than a month before somehow picking an even worse replace with hardass Jim Boylen in the hopes that if you scream at and bully human beings enough, they’ll be grateful to you for it. An organization whose inability to sign free agents of any stature makes them the NBA’s greatest has-been.
A team who, in the year 2021, ouwitted the entire league by trading for Nikola Vucevic. Headed by a front office who just handed Zach LaVine, a player I’ve literally never seen play a second of defense in an eight year career, $215.2 million guaranteed over five years. Backed, as we’re embarrassingly aware, by a group of fans who were comically deluded enough to think their roster of dudes who have never done anything anywhere in their entire careers would literally fist-fight the Milwaukee Bucks as revenge for Grayson Allen’s bad foul on Alex Caruso. Building a successful team culture is hard work, and Chicago has been coasting on an identity that hasn’t been renewed since Leo DiCaprio’s ice-ridden corpse just couldn’t find enough space on that hunk of flotsam in the North Atlantic that quite clearly had enough space for two people on it.
When you look at it that way, why on God’s Green Earth would Giannis not be demanding the Bucks trade him to Chicago right this second?
But…what if Giannis doesn’t actually have any intent of being a Bull one day? What if — and this is going to be a tough pill for some to swallow — Giannis is habitually, even refreshingly, honest and earnest when answering questions from media of all types? He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t seem to take anything for granted, and a particular reading of these annual quotes from Giannis could just as easily be seen as his solemnly recognizing that even the best-laid plans can go sideways. Who can truly say Giannis and the Bucks will remain simpatico for the entirety of his playing career? I can’t, you can’t, and Giannis can’t, even if we collectively agree that the odds of things going sideways are quite small. And so Giannis, being the genuine guy that he is, answers a question about playing in Chicago by responding that, hey, MJ played in Chicago, so maybe I would too.
In truth, besides these random one-liners, there hasn’t been a single hint in any of Giannis’s actions that he plans on doing anything besides winning it all as often as he can in Milwaukee. Coming from outside the stratified American youth basketball system, he has an acute understanding that the organization you play for is more than a firm cutting you a check: It is the physical manifestation of a city’s ethos, the basket into which fans from all walks of life put their hopes, prayers, and support, the opportunity to transcend mortality and become the beloved icon of hundreds of thousands of people who will remember your name, your accomplishments, your grace, and your grandeur for as long as they draw breath. Basketball fans seem to have forgotten that that is the basis upon which sport gains strength and maintains its prestige over not just months or years, but decades. Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly hasn’t.
So to Bulls fans, that random reporter, fans of the NBA, and fans of basketball who read far too much into the words of a guy who spends most waking moments working on Dad Joke bits, respectfully: go kick rocks.