It is sometimes said that “no news is good news.” In the case of the Milwaukee Bucks and the premature conclusion of their participation in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, it seems that there will be no more news until further notice, and that doesn’t exactly feel like “good news.” Per The Athletic’s Eric Nehm, the team is declining to offer exit interviews to the media.
The Bucks decided against doing exit interviews this season. https://t.co/gofjZG6TYv— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) May 3, 2023
On the one hand, exit interviews are a tough sell to 29 of the league’s 30 teams. Why go out of your way to field questions about how the team didn’t win a title? How many people want to sit down in front of multiple cameras, microphones, and people, all of whom are prying into your chosen profession and trying to break down just how far short you fell from your goals?
Reportedly, teams are gradually phasing out exit interviews as fans have come to know them. And truth be told, there’s not always hidden gems of knowledge and insight to be found. Sometimes it’s a cliché factory, and fans aren’t really taking anything useful away from the answers given.
But the Hornets still did exit interviews. The Thunder still did exit interviews. The Blazers still did exit interviews. And Memphis – the other top seed to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs – the Grizzlies still did exit interviews. Even Dillon Brooks, who talked a big game all year long, played so poorly in the series against LA, and is reportedly not be retained by the Grizzlies under any circumstances, even he did an exit interview!
To be absolutely clear, the point of exit interviews is not to set the team up for “gotcha!” moments from reporters. That’s not what post-game availability is for, either. The point of these exercises is to ask thoughtful questions to try and gain insight from the subject of the interview, to see where they’re at or what their thought process is or what they think of the topic now as compared to in the moment. Most of the time, it’s not done well and it ends up with the same sort of stock phrases you can get anywhere. But when you do it well, you get answers like this that end up providing a new perspective, valuable insight, and even fuel wider conversations elsewhere.
Another thing that exit interviews aren’t is forcing people into a position where they’re set up for target practice. Teams lose games, players and coaches make mistakes, and the idea that exit interviews exist to exact some sort of misguided revenge is the sort of thing that anonymous Twitter account might support, but that’s not what people in the real world want.
People want to know what’s going on with the things they care about. In the case of the Bucks, fans across the globe aren’t just worried about the future of the team, but there’s some genuine desire to know how people who make up the team we follow are doing. And this is what the decision to not conduct exit interviews takes away from fans; without this opportunity, there’s nothing to point to. If you give people a void, they will fill it with whatever they can find. By avoiding exit interviews, the Bucks are giving their fans a void to fill; their media info account didn’t even post anything about this decision. They’re simply...not.
It is totally understandable why the team wouldn’t want to do exit interviews, by the way. Giannis said enough following the Game Five loss to fuel cringey LinkedIn posts for months to come. And nobody in their right mind wants to force Coach Bud in front of a microphone right now. But as I mentioned on Twitter, they can do something in order to avoid doing nothing. You don’t have to make the head coach available when everyone is openly questioning his future with the team, but general manager Jon Horst could step in and handle it. Even if it was just the GM and nobody else...something is better than nothing.
When it comes to exit interviews, simply opting out without any further statement or elaboration is not a good look. Essentially, the Bucks are hiding from questions that people are asking, no matter what. That, in and of itself, does not inspire confidence, and even if there’s nothing of consequence actually said, the act of showing up matters.