Bucks

Is Giannis’ Olympic Campaign Hurting the Bucks’ Championship Hopes?

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After Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the entirety of the 2024 NBA playoffs due to a calf injury, the Milwaukee Bucks were first-round exits for the second-straight year.

It’s clear that the Bucks organization is all-in on winning after making an expensive addition in All-Star guard Damian Lillard. However, fans are now starting to question how invested their cornerstone player is.

As Greece will look to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the nation’s star forward will look to lead his country through the tournament. But, is Antetokounmpo’s loyalty to his country hurting Milwaukee’s championship hopes?

ESPN Milwaukee recently addressed the topic, saying the decision “feels irresponsible”.

During the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Giannis couldn’t compete due to injury. In the announcement about his absence, he posted, “Everyone knows my passion and love for my National Team has and never will change. – My personal, and our ultimate team goal is to qualify for the 2024 Olympic games and it will be an honor to represent my National Team next year.”

Now that Antetokounmpo followed through on his word, the nation’s fans should feel relieved their star will suit up. But for the Bucks, certain questions need to be asked.

An X account by the name of  “Settle the Debate”, created a poll called: “Should Giannis play in the Olympics after being injured and not playing in the playoffs?”

The result was a close split; with 51.4% of 710 votes saying yes and 48.6% voting no.

This is not a new problem, as America has dealt with its own roster issues. In past years, however, players have opted not to participate in national team events to save themselves for the NBA regular season.

For example, we are seeing the first fully stacked USA roster for the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics. Heavyweight stars such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard return to the team. While the USA team in 2020 achieved gold, individual players were called out for not participating.

Similarly, Victor Wembanyama sat out of the 2023 FIBA World Cup in preparation for his rookie season in the NBA.

Although Wembanyama’s physique (7’4″, 210 lbs) appears to be more frail than Antetokounmpo’s (6’11”, 240 lbs) they missed similar amount of games due to injury (11 and 9, respectively). They also differ in that the Frenchman chose not to compete for his nation, while the Greek national had no option.

Of course, there is a difference between being an incoming first-overall pick preparing for his first NBA season, and a now 11-year veteran who is already a top-75 player.

Some fans believe Giannis should be able to represent his country and compete on the global stage, while others think that his decision is selfish and not in the Bucks’ best interest.

Here are some reactions to Giannis’ decision:

The debate over team or country is tricky, as fans are likely going to be upset in either situation. But there has been a mixed bag of responses regarding Antetokounmpo’s situation specifically. Their is no doubt that the more games Giannis plays, the more risk of injury.

Ultimately, there’s no telling how this decision will reflect on the upcoming year, or the rest of his career.  

About Evan Hilbert

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