Giannis Antetokounmpo: Why MVP is right with thoughts on All-Star Game

Jan 18, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 18, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

Add Giannis Antetokounmpo to the growing crop of NBA players not sold on the idea of having an NBA All-Star Game next month.

While currently on track to earn his fifth straight All-Star appearance and his fourth straight selection as a starter, the Milwaukee Bucks superstar expressed his dismay at playing an All-Star Game this year following the Bucks’ 123-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night:

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Courtesy of ESPN’s Eric Woodyard:

"“I think every player was looking forward to those five days, seven days, whatever the days are. We’ve got to all follow the big dog,” Antetokounmpo said, referring to James. “The big dog says he has zero excitement and zero energy for the All-Star Game, and I’m the same way. I really right now don’t care about the All-Star Game. We cannot see our families.“Like, I can’t worry about the All-Star Game. I want to see my family. I want to go see my little brother in Spain, I want my brother to come see me,” he added. “So I’m the same way. I’ve got zero energy, zero excitement. At the end of the day, if they tell us we’re gonna show up, we’ve got to do our job. I’m always gonna do my job. I’m always showing up, showing the right example. But at the end of the day inside, deep down, I don’t want to do it. I want to get some break.”"

Antetokounmpo joins the likes of LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and De’Aaron Fox to criticize the league and the NBPA’s decision to hold an All-Star Game next month. Both the NBA and the player’s union came into the 2020-21 season with the intention of not having a traditional All-Star Game, but plans have obviously changed over the last couple of weeks on that front.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s desire to have a break is felt by his peers.

In an NBA season that is pushing and testing players both mentally and certainly physically, the idea that there would be some sort of recuperation at this year’s All-Star break was enticing to many, if not all NBA players. That was hit home harder after the league reversed course and sped up the start of this season after finishing up last year down in the bubble, which already stood as a mental and emotional strain for players that made the trip to Orlando.

The common denominator behind both decisions comes down to the money and the NBA continuing to salvage any revenue they can through their TV deals and remain on time with the start of this year’s Olympic games during this strange and bizarre season. Of course, it’s fair to bring up the fact that the league and the player’s union have both agreed to these decisions, which acknowledges their own involvement on this front.

Yet the question that has to be asked with this latest development is what will be the breaking point of the league trying to push through this season and presenting it as “normal” as it can be.

For the fans following along this season, we have watched the league soldier on through various health scares and teams essentially shutting down for a couple of weeks in one case. It’s certainly commendable to see the league try and hold a season without a bubble and have the mechanisms in place where they, in theory, don’t put the health of players in jeopardy.

Almost all of that, though, has come at the expense of the players. Reading through quotes from players, including Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, in ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz ($$) piece about what life is like on the road this season and you get a sobering picture of how grueling and grinding this whole experience has been on everyone.

Players are playing more games under a more condensed timeline with little down time, all while braving through circumstances they hadn’t previously faced before. The numerous daily tests and the more constrictive health and safety protocols have been instituted since the start of the season has now become a part of the everyday experience of being in the NBA and all sports leagues in general.

While it’s all made in mind of keeping the players safe and healthy, it’s the players and coaches themselves that know first-hand how abnormal this whole season is. With that in mind, it certainly makes some of the league’s decisions towards this season look very brazen, frankly.

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Alas, the show must go on and eventually, Antetokounmmpo and all those selected to this year’s All-Star Game will put on a show for all fans to enjoy. But eventually we all have to wonder the cumulative cost of these decisions and how it affects those that are being directly affected the most.