LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo may be rivals in rival conferences, but they have the same opinion about the league’s plan to hold the All-Star Game in Atlanta in March.
Antetokounmpo beat Milwaukee 123-105 Friday night in Cleveland, scoring 33 points and adding 12 in the midst of a COWID-19 pandemic to help James position himself.
“I think every player was looking forward to those five days, seven days, whatever those days are. We all have to go after the big dog,” Antetokounmpo said, referring to James. “The big dog says he doesn’t have the excitement and energy for the All-Star Game, and I feel the same way. I really don’t care about the All-Star Game right now”. We can’t see our families.
“For example, I can’t worry about the All-Star Game. I want to see my family. I want to visit my little brother in Spain, I want my brother to come and see me,” he added. “That’s how I feel. I have no energy, no excitement. In the end, if they say we have to come, we have to do our job. I will always do my job. I’m always there and I set a good example. But at the end of the day, in the back of my mind, I don’t want to do it. I want to take a little break”.
Antetokounmpo’s comments came a day after James criticized the league’s plans for the all-star game. Other stars also spoke out against the game on Friday, including James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Antetokounmpo finished second behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant on the Eastern Conference court in the first NBA All-Star fan vote.
The MVP and Defensive Player of the Year played in the last four All-Star games and says his experience in Chicago in 2020 will be “a lot of fun for the fans.”
“At the end of the day, if we have an All-Star Game, I hope the fans will be there and we can return the favor,” Antetokounmpo said. “At the end of the day, if we have an All-Star Game and we don’t have fans, I don’t see the point of it.
Antetokounmpo, like James, said he felt the league would not hold an annual showcase until reports indicated otherwise. He said he would rather have used the time to recover from basketball than to play that night.
“I thought about it, of course. At the beginning of the season we knew it wasn’t going to be an all-star game, we wanted to spend time with our family,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, when the protocol changes, it’s a little difficult because your family can’t go. When you go home, you can’t leave the house, you can only go to the training field or the arena and you don’t have time to take your family out to dinner or your family is on the road or just to get away from the game.”
Phoenix Suns goalkeeper Chris Paul, who is president of the Players’ Union, responded Friday to negative comments from players about the All-Star Game.
“Men are entitled to their feelings and decisions and stuff,” Paul said. “I think the league’s job is to make sure our players are healthy and safe. That’s something the league has decided, and we try to understand that day in and day out. But we have 450 players that we’re still trying to get represented, and that’s hard, so we’re just trying to find a solution.
Harden said Friday night that he felt “the same” about the All-Star Game as stars like Antetokounmpo and James.
“There’s so much going on, we’re trying to calm the virus down and put on an event, you know?” said Harden. “I know the reasons, but I feel like everything is being forced on the players, especially with the short schedule. The need to play a lot of games in a week is already exhausting. I feel like it was a week for us to relax, be with our families and get away from basketball.
Leonard said the union’s decision was a matter of “health money at work.”
“I mean, we all know why we’re playing this. You know, there’s money at stake,” he said. “It’s a chance to make more money…. I’m betting on health right now. Yes, we’re gambling now, and it’s still a pandemic. We make all these protocols and rules, so that doesn’t surprise me”.
Paul said he had recently had conversations with players like James and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, acknowledging the complexity of the league’s schedule and being away from his family.
“We get calls and try to deal with different situations from guys who have played a lot of games and haven’t really had many breaks,” Paul said. “I’m sure I’m not the only one in the league without a family, so the guys see this break as an opportunity to see their families.
“… The union is always interested in all actors. But emotions come up, guys have feelings, and you have to be able to express them, and I respect that.”
Frequently asked questions
Why isn’t Giannis playing for the Bucks?
The Milwaukee Bucks have listed FP Giannis Antetokounmpo as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a back injury on the injury report at 5:30 p.m. This is a very late addition to the report for such an important player, continuing a trend from the 2020-21 season.
Did Giannis blow a fuse?
It seems that Giannis Antetokounmpo no longer follows any of his Milwaukee Bucks teammates and staff on Instagram, as confirmed by Saturday morning screenshots. Giannis has simply de-programmed all of his teammates on Instagram and the Bucks.
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo stay in Milwaukee?
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he will officially stay in Milwaukee for five more years. The MVP made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday, December 15. Antetokounmpo has agreed to a five-year, $228 million supermax extension with the Bucks.