Speaking on TNT’s Inside the NBA, NBA legend Charles Barkley outlined why he believes Giannis Antetokounmpo should stay with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In light of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s second consecutive MVP win, the Milwaukee Bucks‘ superstar is again at the center of NBA conversation.
Milwaukee’s season came to an end close to two weeks ago against the Miami Heat now, but it’s a testament to the Greek sensation’s talent that he continues to drive interest and discussion as he enjoys a vacation back home in Athens.
One such notable example of the unrelenting Antetokounmpo narrative came to the fore on TNT’s Inside the NBA on Friday night.
On the day that he was officially crowned as the first player since Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon to earn both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors for the same season, Antetokounmpo’s future, and the pending supermax extension the Bucks can offer him, became a talking point for the show’s legendary panel.
Not for the first time either, it was another former MVP, Charles Barkley, who spoke most passionately about the direction of Giannis’ career over the next few years. Further than that, Barkley shared an opinion that will be music to Bucks fans’ ears.
Highlighting Antetokounmpo’s age compared to that of Michael Jordan when he first won a championship, Barkley made the case that it would be much more meaningful for Giannis to stay in Milwaukee and bring the city its first title since 1971.
“Can you imagine if Michael Jordan had left the Bulls at 25? He didn’t win his first championship until 28. It’s funny to me how all these guys on TV today, they’re like, ‘[Giannis] hasn’t won a championship’. He’s 25 years old. First of all, it’s not a rite of passage where you have to win a championship. And like I say, I don’t want him to go and cheat and try to join other guys and win it. I want him to get better as a player.”
“I would love to see Giannis say, ‘No, we’re going to win in Milwaukee. I could go to another team and team up with other guys and win, but it won’t be the same. It won’t be the same.’ That’s why I admire Dirk Nowitzki. He didn’t leave. He battled and finally won it and it meant more to him than partnering with other guys. So I hate these guys on TV who are like, ‘He hasn’t won a championship. He should leave there and go to a big market.'”
Of course, it’s not just Michael Jordan who didn’t win a championship until he was 28, as LeBron James was also set to turn 28 when he first got his hands on the Larry O’Brien trophy, and Barkley’s TNT colleague Shaquille O’Neal was was also that age when he first won the ultimate prize.
There’s no doubting that there’s been a cultural shift in the NBA, initiated by the moves of players such as LeBron and Kevin Durant (another first-time champion at 28), but even for notable stars who have switched teams over the years, it has taken time for them to get over the hump and finally claim a ring.
On that front, for as much as the narrative has focused on a ticking clock for the Bucks over the past two years or so, time is very much on Giannis’ side. If he opts to remain in Milwaukee, the titles may follow naturally as his game continues to improve and mature.