Giannis Antetokounmpo's 5-year historic supermax deal was probably the biggest news of the NBA world on Tuesday. The Greek superstar elected to stay with the small-market Milwaukee Bucks, affirming his commitment to the franchise. In a league where small-market superstars elect to leave to compete (Anthony Davis), Antetokounmpo's loyalty is a blast from the past to greats like John Stockton and Michael Jordan.
LeBron James, another superstar who took the opposite route from Antetokounmpo, praised the Milwaukee Bucks star for his decision. Ryan Ward indicated that LeBron James was supportive of the decision, echoing the sentiments of other stars around the league.
LeBron James took a different pathway from Antetokounmpo and left in free agency, but returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers and then won a ring with the franchise. While James did elect to leave for the Miami Heat prior to returning to the Cavaliers, in a way he fulfilled his duty to his franchise by coming back and winning a championship. Ryan Ward further reported James as pointing out that the two stars' situations nearing free agency were entirely different.
There is a big amount of truth to that statement. Recently, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Jrue Holiday to support Giannis Antetokounmpo's chances at a championship. In contrast, part of the reason LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers the first time was that they could not help him win by surrounding him with elite players.
It is good to see the best player in the world is encouraging towards a superstar staying in a smaller franchise. Oftentimes players leave to win, and no-one can fault them: Giannis Antetokounmpo is just winning on his own terms, and that is extremely admirable.