NBA

Giannis: Don't call me MVP until I'm an NBA champion

By Sports Desk September 18, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo does not want to be called a two-time MVP until he wins an NBA championship.

Antetokounmpo was crowned the Most Valuable Player for the second straight year after leading the Bucks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the league's best record (56-17) before losing in the semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The 25-year-old, who averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season – became the first player to claim MVP honours in successive seasons since Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in 2015 and 2016.

After winning his first MVP award last year, Antetokounmpo said: "Please, after this day don't call me MVP until I win it again next year."

But with back-to-back MVPs in 2019-20 after receiving 85 of the 101 first-place votes, Antetokounmpo – whose Bucks lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semi-finals – told TNT on Friday: "Don't call me MVP until I'm a champion."

Having also been named Defensive Player of the Year, Antetokounmpo is just the third player in league history to win that award and the MVP in the same season, that select list also featuring Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.

"Obviously, I'm happy for tonight and I'm happy for this award, but I always look forward," Antetokounmpo said. "I always try to figure out, how can I get better? How can I do it again? How can I do it for multiple years to come? How can I be a champion? I'm happy. I'm grateful, but how can I do it again?"

Milwaukee's failure in the postseason ramped up speculation around Antetokounmpo's future amid talk he could demand a trade.

Antetokounmpo is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season, while he is eligible for a max contract extension worth around $254million this offseason.

"As long as everybody's fighting for the same thing ... which is to be a champion, I don't see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years," Antetokounmpo told NBA TV.

Antetokounmpo reportedly met with the Bucks last week in Milwaukee and he added: "Obviously, I would like to keep that conversation I had with the ownership and my coach and the general manager private, but at the end of the day, every team has got to improve.

"It's simple. You've got to be better than what you were last year. If you did not win the whole thing, you've got to get better. If you win the whole thing, you've got to get better and do it again. So, for now, our team has got to get better. I think we have great talent and as long as we improve individually and improve as a team we're gonna be in a good spot.

"I left the meeting encouraged and was happy with what we discussed and for now, we're on the same page. I was happy that they came and we had this long conversation about how we're gonna get better and about things for the future, but, as I said, I was happy.

"I left the conversation encouraged, but I've been encouraged my whole career in Milwaukee. I know that we've gotten better each year and I know that Milwaukee has great people that view every year the same I do every year, which is to play well, improve and win it all. So, I've always been encouraged, but after the meeting I was encouraged, too."

Related items

  • Mourinho praises Tottenham's strength in depth after LASK victory Mourinho praises Tottenham's strength in depth after LASK victory

    Jose Mourinho hailed Tottenham's strength in depth after a much-changed Spurs side earned a 3-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.

    Just three players – Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies and Sergio Reguilon – retained their places from Sunday's 3-3 Premier League draw with West Ham as Spurs got their European campaign underway on Thursday.

    But there was no lack of fluency on show as hosts Tottenham raced into an early two-goal lead before putting a seal on the victory in the final 10 minutes.

    Spurs head coach Mourinho was understandably delighted to have seen his team earn such a comfortable victory in London.

    "I'm happy for the squad," he told BT Sport. "We believe in the others because the others work so hard to play and be ready.

    "Normally I wouldn't do it for the first match of the group phase playing at home, you want to make sure you get these three points, but I trust the boys and the answer was good.

    "Not a magnificent performance but solid and safe."

    Solid start  @SpursOfficial pic.twitter.com/5g81Ooawyl

    — Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) October 22, 2020

    Mourinho's changes meant he was able to bring the likes of Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso off the bench in the second half against LASK.

    Portuguese boss Mourinho admitted he is finding it difficult to leave so much talent out of the starting XI but compared the situation favourably to last season's battles with a lengthy injury list.

    "It is hard because I feel for them. Of course everybody wants to play and for the boys it's a bit frustrating," he added.

    "They fight to have more minutes and in the end not everybody can play, but it's great.

    "Last season I had lots of problems with no striking force and not even wingers or attacking players in some periods of the season.

    "Now we have this amazing squad and with UEFA allowing to have everybody on the bench, I look to my side and I have so many options."

    Mourinho went on to share his belief that Spurs would have earned a more comfortable win over LASK had supporters been present.

    He continued: "Yeah, we could [have scored more], but it's not a knockout game two legs, it's just about the three points.

    "Of course, it could be more, I believe with supporters in the stadium it would be more because then they push and bring that extra bit of energy.

    "But in the end, opportunities for people to play, to get confidence, three points and that's a good start."

  • Arteta warns Leno over distribution after howler against Rapid Vienna Arteta warns Leno over distribution after howler against Rapid Vienna

    Mikel Arteta had a warning for Bernd Leno and Arsenal after the goalkeeper's mistake almost proved costly in Thursday's clash with Rapid Vienna.

    Two goals in four minutes from David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured a 2-1 win to start the Gunners' Europa League campaign after Taxiarchis Fountas had put the home side ahead in Austria.

    Fountas had capitalised when Leno's poor touch and kick gifted him a chance to open the scoring, and two further poor pieces of play from the Arsenal goalkeeper gave the Greek striker opportunities he could not convert.

    Leno has now made eight errors leading to goals in all competitions since the start of the 2018-19 season, the third-highest tally by any Premier League player behind David de Gea (nine) and Jordan Pickford (11).

    Arteta will not discourage his side from trying to build play from the back, but he does accept there are occasions when clearing their lines is more important.

    "It's part of our game," he told reporters. "We need to understand when we can do that and when we should kick the ball into the stands.

    "They will understand better and better the type of balls we have to play in those areas and to who in relation to the pressure that's coming.

    "We knew it was going to be a difficult match. We made it harder in the beginning with the goal we conceded.

    "I really like the reaction. The second half, we understood much better the spaces we have to attack.

    "In general, we scored two good goals, the second was fantastic. We are delighted to start with victory."

    Thomas Partey made his full debut for the Gunners and delivered an accomplished performance at the heart of midfield.

    The £45million signing attempted 57 passes in the opposition half, more than any other player, while some shrewd defensive work saw him win five tackles and regain possession eight times.

    "I think he held the midfield by himself in the second half as well, when we were a little bit more open and we started to take more chances attacking certain spaces with some players," Arteta said.

    "But I think he was fantastic tonight and there is much more to come from him. We know, with the price we paid for him, he's going to have a lot of people looking at him."

  • Kawhi and George will stay as long as Clippers win – Lue Kawhi and George will stay as long as Clippers win – Lue

    Tyronn Lue believes star duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will remain with the Los Angeles Clippers for a "long time" if championships are won as the new head coach embraces pressure of success.

    Lue will lead the Clippers in 2020-21 after replacing Doc Rivers following the team's stunning Western Conference semi-final exit in the NBA playoffs.

    The Clippers were one of the favourites to claim their maiden title following the arrivals of Leonard and George but squandered a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    After going all-in to build a super team to outshine LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers – who reigned supreme in the Orlando bubble – pressure will again be on the Clippers to deliver a championship as time runs out.

    "Any time you have a chance to win a championship, it's pressure," Lue told ESPN's 'The Jump' in an interview to be aired Thursday.

    "And, I think Kawhi, PG are here to stay for a long time. We just gotta make it a great environment and we have to win."

    Lue fronted the media for the first time since being appointed, stepping up to fill Rivers' void having served as an assistant for the Clippers in 2019-20.

    The 43-year-old Lue guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship in 2016 – a team headline by James.

    There were high hopes for the Clippers, boasting two-time champion Leonard, six-time All-Star George, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams but team chemistry and leadership derailed the Los Angeles franchise last term.

    The 2019-20 campaign was the ninth consecutive season the Clippers finished with a winning record (49-23) but failed to reach the Conference finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history, per Stats Perform.

    "I think when you talk about chemistry and continuity, it is not off the court, the guys not liking each other," Lue told reporters on Wednesday.

    "When you talk about chemistry, it is more so [George] came in and he had shoulder surgery, so he was out, he missed the whole training camp and was out the first 11 games of the season. Kawhi came in and couldn't participate in the whole training camp, and then we lost Pat Beverley, in and out of the lin-up a few times."

    One of the Clippers' biggest strengths is their bench, averaging over 50 points per game in each of the past two seasons – the only times any team have done that in the past 35 years.

    But in the playoffs this past season, the Clippers relied much more heavily on their starters as their bench averaged only 36.5 points per game in the postseason.

    With the Clippers built to win now, their ageing roster also presents a problem. They are one of the oldest teams in the league, fourth and only behind the Houston Rockets (30 years, 179 days), Milwaukee Bucks (29 years, 321 days) and Lakers (29 years, 201 days) with an average of 28 years and 153 days.

    "Leadership is different," Lue said. "You can talk about our two players, Kawhi and PG, they lead by example ... And you are not going to have the best players be the natural leaders at all times. It doesn't happen like that. I think a lot of leadership has to come from me, has to come from Kawhi, PG, Lou and Pat Beverley. It's going to be collective.

    "I got to show them different ways of leadership and they got to show me different ways of leadership. I don't know everything. They don't know everything ... The biggest thing about leadership is just communication."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.