Giannis Antetokounmpo Says Jason Kidd Firing Made Him Feel 'Uncomfortable'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to shoot against Miami Heat's Josh Richardson during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said Jason Kidd's firing made him "uncomfortable" in his first public comments since the former Bucks coach publicly discussed their private conversation Monday.

"It's kind of uncomfortable, especially for a guy like me that is—as I said, one of my characteristics is that I'm being loyal to the people around me," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "That's one of my characteristics, but it's kind of uncomfortable knowing before it happened." 

Kidd told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that Antetokounmpo called him upon learning of his dismissal, offering to go to ownership on his coach's behalf.

"He called me and said, 'Coach, this isn't right what they're about to do, but [they] are gonna let you go,'" Kidd said.

The Bucks fired Kidd after starting the season 23-22 and dropping to the East's No. 8 seed following going a stretch of four losses in five games. Kidd went 139-152 in more than three seasons on Milwaukee's bench and made two playoff appearances. Milwaukee was on pace for its third postseason appearance under Kidd, but the team failed to make progress despite a young, developing roster.

Antetokounmpo credited Kidd for being instrumental in his development. 

"He was a big part of my success," Antetokounmpo said. "He trusted me, he put the ball in my hands, he motivated me on a daily basis, he pushed me to be great and not to be mediocre.

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"I was 19 when he came and he said he was going to put the ball in my hands. The first time I wasn't ready. I told him, 'Coach, I'm not ready to create and make plays for the team.' He said, 'OK, we're going to take our time.' The next year, he put the ball in my hands and I was ready.

"But coming from a guy like Jason Kidd is big. He's going to end up—whatever, if he got fired or not—he's going to end up in the Hall of Fame. Having Jason Kidd as our coach was big."

Antetokounmpo is leading the Bucks in points (28.2), rebounds (10.1) and assists (4.6) per game. He increased his scoring and rebounding average every season under Kidd and emerged as one of the best players in the sport.