Or rather, they weren’t communicating very well for one day—Wednesday night to be exact. Antetokounmpo was benched in the Milwaukee Bucks’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and he has no idea why.
From the Journal Sentinel‘s Matt Velazquez:
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the only Milwaukee Bucks player to appear in all 77 of the team’s games entering their matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. He had started 64 in row.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he sat out of Wednesday’s 104-99 loss to the Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo apparently didn’t know in advance of the game.
“He didn’t tell me,” Antetokounmpo answered when asked when head coach Jason Kidd told him he would sit. “No, he didn’t tell me.”
Was the benching for being late to practice? For rest? Because of an injury?
“I don’t know,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “It was coach’s decision — I don’t know — for me not to play today.”
Kidd made it clear that sitting the 6-foot-11 second-year forward was his decision. He invoked the phrase “coach’s decision” six times during his postgame press conference.
“Coach’s decision,” Kidd said for the fourth time. “It was a coach’s decision. I don’t know what, you guys can’t hear? …You guys are smart. How about the game?”
Whatever the reasoning behind Kidd’s decision was, it wasn’t because Antetokounmpo is injured. The head coach was blunt with his answer when asked if there was a health issue involved.
“No, he was breathing,” Kidd said.
Talk about your unnecessary drama.
The Bucks are going to the playoffs. That’s a fact. They may forfeit sixth place in the East, and they’re obviously more invested in the big picture, record be damned, but they’re still going to the playoffs. Benching Antetokounmpo could be an attempt to rest him ahead of the postseason, an idea that, admittedly, seems farfetched since the Bucks don’t appear to be resting anyone or even preparing for a long playoff run.
Confusing still, Kidd didn’t let on to Antetokounmpo’s full-blown benching before the game. As Velazquez notes, he instead said that he would bring the Greek Freak off the bench while Jared Dudley started in his stead. And then, poof. Nothing. Antetokounmpo spends the entirety of a tightly contested matchup riding pine.
The whole thing is just weird. Unsettling, even. Antetokounmpo isn’t the type of player who needs to be benched as a punishment or reprimand. He’s probably the sweetest, most genuine NBA player alive. Maybe he broke a rule by accident and Kidd wanted to discipline him without making a big public ordeal about it, or maybe he’s not sold on Antetokounmpo’s play, or maybe this whole thing is just one, big, fat, totally ridiculous misunderstanding.
Whatever it is, though, it’s officially distracting. If Kidd isn’t going to shed public light on what’s happening, he should at least give Antetokounmpo piece of mind by telling him, you know, what the hell is going on.