When it comes to NBA teams, the Milwaukee Bucks, aren’t usually a franchise that most people would think of in terms of legacies or records, but one player on the Bucks is changing that in a big way.
Giannis Antetokounmpo stands at 6’11” making him the tallest point guard in NBA history.
Sports Illustrated put Antetokounmpo on their cover of their Jan. 9 issue, along with a fantastic review of how he is changing the game, not only for the Bucks – as the team’s first All-Star player since 2004, but how he changes the game for other teams in the league.
On the worst nights, when the fadeaways are short and the pocket passes are late, Giannis Antetokounmpo skips the showers. He storms out of the Bradley Center in full uniform, from home locker room to player parking lot, and hops into the black Explorer the local Ford dealer lent him. He turns right on North 4th Street in downtown Milwaukee, steers toward the Hoan Bridge and continues six miles south to the Catholic seminary in St. Francis, where the priests pray and the Bucks train and The Freak dispenses his rage. Alone, Antetokounmpo reenacts the game he just played, every shot he clanked and every read he missed. Sometimes, he leaves by 1 a.m. Other times, he stays until three, sweating through his white jersey for a second time. “I get so mad, and if I go right home, I’m afraid I’ll never get that anger out,” Antetokounmpo says. “This is how I get the anger away.”
He used to administer his form of self-flagellation on the court, because that’s what he saw Chris Paul do after a Clippers loss in L.A. But he noticed some fans lingering in the lower bowl with their cellphone cameras and he didn’t want anybody to think he was putting on a show. So he retreats, in space and time. Here he is not the $100 million man with the catchy nickname and the barrel chest who studies Magic Johnson’s fast breaks and Russell Westbrook’s mean mugs, who wrestles LeBron and mimes Dirk, who hears MVP chants and references 40-balls. Here he is not even the spring-loaded first-round pick who arrived wide-eyed in the United States three and a half years ago, tweeting breathlessly about his first smoothie, refusing to use the auto-pump feature on his gas nozzle because he was so excited to pump it himself, chirping after a burger at In-N-Out in Westwood Village: “This is America right here! The real America! Isn’t it beautiful?”
For more on Antetokounmpo, see Sports Illustrated.