Sam Amick of The Athletic spoke with Antetokounmpo on a variety of topics, including the fact that the NBA champ refused to wear a knee brace during his team’s title run.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen where people wear a big brace on your knee, like Goran Dragic wears — a big brace,” Antetokounmpo said. “They told me, ‘Giannis, Tim Duncan wore this (so) wear this.’ I said, ‘Heeeell naw.’ They said, ‘Giannis, you need to wear this.’ And they had made one specifically for me. I said, ‘Hell. No. I’m not wearing that s—.'”
Antetokounmpo explained that his adamant stand against the brace stemmed from watching his parents battle through their own struggles.
“I have this mentality like, with my mom and dad, when they were working back home (in Greece), they felt no pain, you know?” Antetokounmpo said. “Like, why? Why would I feel pain, you know? They didn’t feel pain. They didn’t complain. You know, I didn’t see my Dad cry when he was here. I didn’t see him saying, ‘I’m in pain,’ I don’t see my Mom saying ‘I’m in pain’ and stuff like that. Why would I say I’m in pain? That’s how I’m raised. That’s how I’m built. So even though that was the right thing to do — no. The way of my mindset, that wasn’t for me. So OK, things (in the Finals went) well. We won the championship. Great, but now we’ve got to leave it in the past.”
When all was said and done, Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks capture their first NBA title in 50 years. To make the victory even sweeter, he was named Finals MVP.
That level of success is far beyond what many NBA experts expected of Antetokounmpo when the Bucks chose him with the 15th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.
During Antetokounmpo’s rookie campaign, he started only 23 of his 77 games, but he has since been a fixture in Milwaukee’s starting lineup. Antetokounmpo has averaged more than 20 points per game in each of the last five seasons, and he’s doing so again this season.
Antetokounmpo is showing no signs of slowing down. In 59 games this season, he’s averaging 29.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
He might not win this season’s MVP award, but it seems clear that Antetokounmpo’s top focus is to help the Bucks capture another title.