Beck: This wasn’t about the money for Giannis

Howard Beck explains why Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a supermax contract with the Milwaukee Bucks – and no, it wasn’t about the money

Reiter Than You
December 16, 2020 - 3:06 pm

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Giannis Antetokounmpo signed the richest deal in NBA history Tuesday, agreeing to a five-year $228.2 million extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.

This decision caught many analysts, including Sports Illustrated NBA writer Howard Beck, by surprise.

“I did not necessarily see this coming,” Beck said on Reiter Than You. “I was kind of pleasantly surprised because I’m happy for Milwaukee and the Bucks and I think it’s a great organization. I’m happy for that town, happy for the NBA that there’s at least some stability that a superstar decided to stay with his team. I am all for players deciding wherever they want to play. Player empowerment, I am completely on board with. 

“But I also think it’s generally healthier for the league at large if some stars actually stay with their original teams,” Beck continued, “especially in non-destination markets, whether they’re smaller markets or cold-weather markets – whatever. Stemming that tide is, I think, healthier for the league and for competitive balance.”

Antetokounmpo has led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA two years in a row. He’s also been named NBA MVP two years in a row.

The Bucks, however, have not won an NBA title since 1971 and have not reached the Finals since 1974.

“Everything we know about him and everything I’ve ever heard about him, he truly does value winning and winning at the highest level – championships – more than the money, more than the fame, more than big markets or anything like that,” Beck said of Antetokounmpo. “I’ve been told for years this is not a guy who’s going to flee to New York or L.A. or Miami at the first chance that he gets. That stuff doesn’t matter to him. He wants to be with a great organization where he has a chance to contend every year, and the commitment that he made yesterday shows that.”

Some NBA fans, surely, will say this was all about money for Antetokounmpo.

“It’s not,” Beck said. “He could have gotten the $200-something million next summer. It would be a max instead of a supermax, whatever. He was going to be insanely wealthy regardless, and he closed off any opportunities to go off to Miami or Toronto or Dallas or anybody else who would chase him by doing this. To me, the clear signal he sent yesterday with that signature was, ‘I want to be here, and I believe in this franchise. I trust this ownership group, this front office, they’ve done the right things, and I’m committing to them because I believe they’re going to put me in the best position to win titles.’”