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#pounditWednesday, May 18, 2022

Report: Jabari Parker called out Giannis Antetokounmpo last year for laziness

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Here’s a pair of teammates NBA fans will be disappointed to learn may have some friction between them: Bucks forwards Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

According to a report by Zach Lowe of ESPN on Monday, Antetokounmpo was benched by head coach Jason Kidd in a late April game last season after Parker criticized his lack of intensity in a team practice:

Everyone within the Bucks describes Parker as a diligent worker who cares about the team first. It was Parker who called out Antetokounmpo for lazing through a practice in April, several team sources have told me. Jason Kidd, the team’s head coach, benched Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee’s next game — a move the team never explained publicly.

The Greek Freak’s benching made headlines at the time because nobody was really sure why it happened. Now we finally have our answer.

Granted, there might not be a lot to see here as some sort of conflict inevitably arises between almost all teammates at some point. That’s just a reality of the NBA workplace where guys spend the overwhelming majority of their waking hours with the same dozen or so teammates for a nine-plus month stretch. But the fact that it’s the two most indispensable members of the Bucks young core that are supposedly at odds is something that is sure to turn a few heads.

Parker, 20, is averaging 11.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game this season, his first season since tearing his ACL in December 2014. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo, 21, is enjoying a career year with 15.7 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game.

But the Bucks have struggled their way to a 18-25 record this season. Already, serious questions have been raised about the ability of the two to co-exist on the court as the team’s spacing really suffers when Antetokounmpo and Parker share the floor. Now, the notion of them being unable to co-exist off the court as well poses a major potential issue.

Hopefully, last season’s dispute was nothing more than an isolated incident. But the relationship between the two youngsters will be something to keep an eye on, not only because head coach Kidd sided with Parker and benched Antetokounmpo. It’s also because as the team develops together and roles begin to solidify, an alpha dog will eventually emerge. If that alpha dog is Parker and not Antetokounmpo (or perhaps vice versa), could it cause internal strife that might push the Bucks over the edge?

Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

H/T ProBasketballTalk

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