STANZ: A life lesson from The Greek Freak

Apr 26, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) stands in the center of the court after a 128-126 loss to the Miami Heat during game five of the 2023 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

This is not a column about the Cyclones.

This is a column about sports, life and a quote from one of the best basketball players on the planet that will hopefully lend some folks some perspective.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was surely heartbroken Wednesday night after his team’s 128-126 overtime loss to the Miami Heat, ending the No. 1 seed in the East’s season with a 4-1 first-round series loss.

Many people would consider the Bucks, the team with the best record in the NBA, coming up short a resounding failure. It would be hard to argue against that fact when talking about a title contender.

The Greek Freak didn’t see it that way, though, when asked if the season was a failure.

“Do you get the promotion every year on your job? No, right? So every year you work is a failure,” Giannis asked the reporter. “Every year you work, you work toward something. Whether it’s to get a promotion, take care of your family, provide a house or take care of your parents, it’s not a failure. There’s steps to success.”

This is something I think is often lost in our society today, especially in athletics. I might even say it is lost most specifically in youth athletics.

Everyone wants everything right now. They want the promotion right now. They want to win right now. They want their child to succeed right now. They want their child to win right freaking now.

We too often forget about the struggle it takes to win, the painstaking hours of work it takes to find victory. Wins don’t come overnight, they come in the work you’re doing when the lights aren’t on.

Does that mean you’re going to always win? No, it doesn’t, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, Nick Saban and Alabama football or Bill Self and Kansas basketball.

That is the secret these individuals understand.

Success is not measured by the end result on the scoreboard. It is measured by the process you used to get there, and the scoreboard is the ultimate measuring stick of your process.

“There’s always steps to it,” Giannis said. “Michael Jordan played 15 years. He won six championships. The other nine years were a failure? That’s what you’re telling me. 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 is your turn. Some days it’s not your turn. That’s what sports are about. You don’t always win.”

What a concept, right?

That’s one of the highest achievers on the planet, an NBA champion, telling you that things aren’t always going to go their way. The recognition of that fact is the only way those individuals are able to find peace in their lives.

Why, then, is it so hard for some others to understand and accept?

“This year, somebody else is going to win,” Giannis continued. “It’s simple as that. We’ll come back next year and try to be better, try to build good habits, try to play better, not have a 10-day stretch playing bad basketball, and hopefully win a championship.”

I hope the young people out there reading this take something away from Giannis’ words and can wrap them into their own lives. The next time you’re lifting weights with your team or in the gym putting up shots, think about the best player on the planet and his words knocking down the walls of failure.

There is no such thing as failure. There is only another opportunity to get back on the horse and try to be better the next day so you don’t get bucked off.

These were important words spoken late Wednesday night, and everyone should take a minute to hear them.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.