The Milwaukee Bucks will either be legends or tragic figures in 2020, with no in between
Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 06: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks over Ivica Zubac #40 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on December 06, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
The Bucks are 20-3, which is very good, but I would like to draw your attention to this stat:
And then look at this tweet, which is now a little outdated:
At this point, Giannis has overtaken Doncic with a PER of 33.78, which would be good for best ever. (PER is an advanced "all-in-one" metric designed to measure a player's overall value...basically, John Hollinger developed an MVP stat.) So, to recap:
1.) The Bucks have an average differential of +13.6 points per game, while no team at least since 2002-03 has reached +12 for a season.
2.) By one metric, Giannis is having the best season by a player ever.
But here are two other things that are true:
1.) Lebron's Lakers are also 20-3.
2.) Milwaukee could lose Giannis in 2021.
That's the year he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and he's already said that this year will basically determine what he decides—whether to pursue free agency or to re-up with the Bucks on a major deal.
Right now, it looks like this team has two possibilities—becoming one of the greatest franchises ever, winning a championship, and re-signing the best player of his generation...or losing to LeBron, losing Giannis, and becoming anonymous overnight. Legends or tragic figures—now those are some stakes!
The Giannis Clip of the Week: Giannis
It's already December and I haven't done a filthy Giannis clip yet? Awful. Time to remedy it with this dunk:
BallIsLife implied that it was a posterization, but Giannis was so far above Zubac, and the jam was so definitive, that I'm not sure this even qualifies...the dude was practically out of frame, which is a good metaphor for anyone who wants to be compared to the Greek Freak these days.
The "Fine, These Playoffs Will Be Good" Sport of the Week: College Football
Last week, I wrote about the power conferences in college football are basically medieval kingdoms, with the same group of teams accruing more power year after year, and holding everyone else in thrall. This year was no different—the playoffs will feature Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma, three traditional kings, along with LSU, a team that isn't quite the SEC king, but is, along with Auburn and Georgia, king-adjacent. There's rarely much drama in the regular season.
THAT BEING SAID, these playoffs are going to rule. When you get four kings together, you really can't miss, which makes it very fortunate that Utah got exposed by Oregon and won't crash the party. Clemson vs. LSU in the probable 2-3 game? Amazing. The reigning kings against the rising usurpers is a storyline that can't miss. Ohio State vs. Oklahoma? Again, this is great, because it's the royal juggernaut fo 2019 vs. the team that features the kingly Jalen Hurts. The system is rife with inequality, and I will continue to complain about it, but you can't deny that it makes for a thrilling endgame.
The Called Shot of a Lifetime: Ed Orgeron, LSU
Look at this quote from 2017, shortly after Orgeron was named head coach following his stint as interim in 2016:
It's even better when you imagine it in his native Cajun.
Foreign Sports Insight of the Week: ESPN.com in Australia!
I'm not abroad often, but when I am, it's always fascinating to see what sports are features on ESPN.com's top bar when it loads to the native site. It changes based on location and gives me the smallest perspective on what being a sports fan in a different country might look like. Does it make me pathetic that I'm getting my tourist kicks on an American website while other people are experiencing actual culture? Absolutely! And I won't apologize for being pathetic, ever. Not after I've come so far. Anyway, I'm in Australia now for the Presidents Cup, and this is how it looks:
Cricket and rugby make sense—I'm in Melbourne, just a skip and a hop away from the world's largest cricket grounds—and the "football" is Aussie Rules Football. I don't know what NBL is, and I refuse to look it up (it's the National Basketball League, which is an Australian thing), but what really got me was the inclusion of the NBA and NFL. Basketball and football are huge here! I can guarantee you the U.K. ESPN isn't featuring that shit. I like these Aussies.
On a very important side note, I can also report that they have normal showers. That was actually disappointing to me, since Europe had trained me to expect malfunctioning, absurdist disasters with shower heads at navel level and "curtains" made of glass that extend about a quarter of the way across the tub and eight different levers you have to maneuver simultaneously to get hot water, like an old-timey car with 16 cranks. I wanted a good laugh, and a sense of American shower superiority, but I got nothing but terrific water pressure and intuitive design.
Also, since we're here, I was psyched to watch the toilet water spin the wrong way when it flushed, but all their toilets are of the "sucking the water down with abrupt violence, like if the Dyson hand-drying people got into toilets" variety, depriving me of my big chance. I would have paid $20 to see this, easy, but now I have to conclude that like the moonwalk and the so-called "round" earth, the Coriolis Effect is fake.