The Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat has resulted in their elimination from the 2023 NBA postseason. This loss makes them the fifth #1 seed in playoffs history to suffer a first-round exit against an #8 seed team in a best-of-seven games series. Following this, Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked if he considered the 2022-2023 season a “failure.”
In a mature response, the 2-time Most Valuable Player stated that such moments shouldn’t be considered “failures” but rather “steps to success.”
“Michael Jordan played 15 years, won 6 championships. The other 9 years were a failure?"
-Giannis' passionate response to if he considers the Bucks' season a failure pic.twitter.com/G5VtwnGXYq
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 27, 2023
He compared this to Michael Jordan’s career and questioned whether his other nine seasons without a championship were failures. Antetokounmpo emphasized that not winning a championship wasn’t the end of the world and that there were always ups and downs in sports.
“It’s a wrong question; there’s no failure in sports. There are good days, bad days. Some days you’re able to be successful, some days you’re not. Some days it’s your turn, some days it’s not your turn. And that’s what sports is about. You don’t always win. Sometimes other people win. And this year somebody else is going to win, simple as that,” Antetokounmpo stated in a heartfelt response to The Athletic’s Eric Nehm.
"He's not a failure of a player, but is it a failure of a season? I would say yes."
-Shaq on Giannis and the Bucks falling in the first round to the Heat pic.twitter.com/XKRt2GNfmv
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 27, 2023
Analysts and enthusiasts from around the world gave their opinions on whether the Bucks’ season was a failure or not. Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley also had some interesting takes during their discussion on Inside the NBA. While both lauded Antetokounmpo for handling the question appropriately, they disagreed with each other.
O’Neal considered the season a failure, stating, “When you’re the great player and they expect you to win and you don’t win, in my mind, it is a failure.” However, he clarified that Antetokounmpo wasn’t a failure as a player, but the entire franchise failed this season.”He is not a failure as a player, but is it a failure as a season? I would say yes. But also like his explanation, I can understand and respect his explanation,” O’Neal said.
On the other hand, Barkley disagreed with O’Neal, stating, “I 100% disagree with that (Shaq’s points). They got beat. You don’t win every year. I agree with Giannis.”
Barkley instead spoke about the injury that Antetokounmpo sustained, which he believed was the reason behind the team’s elimination from the playoffs. “He missed two games. I mean, we don’t know what could’ve happened.
I understand why he was mad about the question cause if he plays every game, it might’ve been a different series. It’s disappointing that he got hurt early in the series. But hey, having that kid as the face of our league is one of the great things,” Barkley said.
Overall, while the Bucks’ season didn’t end as they hoped, Antetokounmpo’s response to the question highlighted the importance of perspective and the understanding that not every season will end in a championship.
The Superman Seal of Approval: Shaq’s Constant Praise of Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 10-year veteran of the NBA, led his team to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with impressive regular season averages of 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. However, in the first game of the postseason, he sustained a back injury, causing him to sit out games two and three.
Antetokounmpo made an explosive return in the next two games, scoring a 26-point triple-double and a 38-point double-double. In game five, despite stuffing the stat sheet, he missed 13 free throws, which affected his performance.
Shaquille O’Neal, a former NBA player, has been a vocal admirer of Antetokounmpo’s style of play, which he describes as high-intensity and productive. He has even awarded Antetokounmpo the nickname “Superman,” a title that he previously objected to when Dwight Howard claimed it. O’Neal explains that he gave Antetokounmpo the title because of his hard play and the way he leads his team.
O’Neal also praises Antetokounmpo for not forcing a move to a superteam, which has turned the Milwaukee Bucks into championship contenders. In 2021, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the championship, and his presence has been instrumental in their success since then.