Even in shocking defeat, Giannis Antetokounmpo rose to the occasion.
Antetokounmpo refused to call this season a failure after his No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks were bounced from the playoffs by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in a thrilling 128-126 overtime loss. The Bucks' big man took offense when asked by a reporter if this season was a failure and instead pointed to the fact that not everyone wins everything every year, and that's OK.
"Do you get a promotion every year on your job? No, right? So every year you work is a failure, yes or no? No. Every year you work towards a goal. ... It's not a failure; it's steps to success," Antetokounmpo said after the game. "There's always steps to it. Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships. The other nine years was a failure? That's what you're telling me?
"... It's a wrong question; there's no failure in sports. There's good days, bad days. Some days you're able to be successful, some days you're not. Some days it's your turn, some days it's not your turn. And that's what sports is about. You don't always win. Sometimes other people win. And this year somebody else is going to win, simple as that."
The Bucks went into the 2022-23 playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference but were unable to stop a bombardment of shots from the Heat in the fourth quarter Wednesday night. Miami overcame a 16-point deficit and held Milwaukee to only 16 points in the fourth to pull off the stunning upset.
Heat guard Jimmy Butler, who averaged 37.6 points in the five-game series, finished with a game-high 42 and added eight rebounds and four assists in Game 5. He had 56 points in a pivotal Game 4. Antetokounmpo, who missed Game 3 with a back injury, finished with 38 points and 20 rebounds.
"So the 50 years from 1971-2021 that we didn't win a championship, it was 50 years of failure?" Antetokounmpo added. "No, it was not. It was steps to it. We were able to win one, hopefully, we can win another one."
While the Bucks' season is over, the Heat move on. Miami will play the New York Knicks in the second round after they ousted the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2013. The Knicks could be without forward Julius Randle, who rolled his ankle early in the second half of New York's closeout game Wednesday night.
The Heat are 1-3 against the Knicks this season.