Giannis Antetokounmpo was “surprised” the Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Adrian Griffin.
Griffin was dismissed on Tuesday after just seven months at the helm, despite the team sitting second in the Eastern Conference with a 30-13 record.
“I’ve got to trust the front office, I’ve got to trust the ownership group that they consider the bigger picture,” Antetokounmpo said following the Bucks’ 126-116 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
“My job is to be the best version of myself, to lead this team out there and help win games.
“Their job is to create the best team possible and the best atmosphere around the team possible that they believe gives us a better chance to win a championship. But yeah, I do think [firing coach Griffin] was a surprise.”
The Bucks hired Griffin last June after parting ways with Mike Budenholzer, who led the team to the NBA championship in 2021 but oversaw a disappointing first-round play-off exit against the Miami Heat last campaign.
Milwaukee’s record under Griffin is the best managed by a coach who was sacked mid-season since the Cleveland Cavaliers dismissed David Blatt while 30-11 in January 2016.
Another MVP performance from Giannis.
35 PTS | 18 REB | 10 AST | 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/MlQEcC3G9t
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 25, 2024
However, the Bucks have been criticised over their defensive regression this term, while reports have also suggested Antetokounmpo had lost faith in the 49-year-old, a claim the two-time MVP dismissed.
“I loved the guy. I invited him to my wedding,” he added.
“I was coached by him and we did very, very, very well. When somebody is being hired, the GM might come and ask, ‘What do you think about that? What do you think about this?’ or whatever and not just me – players, people that he trusts their advice. But at times, they make it seem like it’s the players that are making the decision.”
Star point guard Damian Gillard was also surprised and disappointed to see Griffin depart.
He said: “There’s been a lot of expectations on our team.
“Things have been expected to look a certain way. We’ve had a bumpy road to our success, which is sometimes a part of the process. I was surprised. But it’s part of the game. People get traded, people get waived, people get fired, and that’s never something you want to see.”
The Bucks are expected to appoint Doc Rivers as Griffin’s replacement.