Giannis Antetokounmpo’s evolution over the course of the last couple seasons has been scary to watch, but unfortunately, it hasn’t paid off for the Bucks just yet this season. Through 18 games, Milwaukee is just 9-9 and sits in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, which is disappointing when you consider that, on paper, they have one of the better teams in the East.
The good news is that the Bucks still have plenty of time to rebound from their slow start to the season and should do just that, especially since they’ve added Eric Bledsoe to their team. But the bad news is that it appears as though Antetokounmpo might be feeling some of the frustration that comes along with his team playing poorly.
On Saturday night, the Bucks lost to the Jazz 121-108, and during the third quarter of the game, Antetokounmpo lost his composure. Video surfaced that appeared to show him yelling, "I’ll fuck you up," at Bucks assistant coach Sean Sweeney, and at one point, he had to be restrained after he attempted to go after the coach. Several of his teammates had to stand between him and Sweeney to stop Antetokounmpo from stepping to him.
It was no doubt an intense moment and was a rare misstep from Antetokounmpo, who has been stuffing the stat sheet so far this season despite his team’s struggles. But on Sunday, he downplayed the entire incident and said that he’s gone after Sweeney and other coaches before in the heat of battle. This was just one of the rare times the cameras were on him to catch it.
"That’s what me and Sweeney do," Antetokounmpo said. "You always fight with your brothers. It’s something common. Me and Sweeney, we’re so tight. He always speaks the truth to me, and I always speak the truth to him. We’ve done this in the past, just this time it was caught on national TV. But me and Sweeney, we’re OK, that’s what we do—we fight, we argue, but at the end of the day, we both want to win. I don’t think there’s anybody from this team who wants to win more than Sweeney and me and coach [Jason] Kidd, of course."
Antetokounmpo’s response to his heated confrontation with his coach might sound like little more than a clusterfuck of sports clichés wrapped together to try and explain an incident that he probably wishes hadn’t happened, and to some degree, it is. But it’s worth noting that incidents like this between pro athletes and coaches happen all the time (this one involving Draymond Green and Steve Kerr is particularly noteworthy). They just don’t usually happen while everyone at home is watching on TV.
At the end of the day, Antetokounmpo’s argument with his coach isn’t the end of the world, and as USA Today Sports pointed out, the player and coach were back working together again on Sunday. So this will ultimately be little more than a small blip on the radar at the end of the Bucks’ season, and it could even help jumpstart the team and put them back in the mix in the East.