Since NBA players first arrived in the Orlando bubble for the summer restart, several players have shared social media posts with complaints about their living conditions.
His path from experiencing poverty in Greece to becoming a multimillionaire MVP included sacrifice, which he refuses to lose sight of despite his current status.
“I’m in a situation where I’m extremely blessed and I cannot complain. Obviously, it doesn’t matter where you are in life, there’s always something to complain, there’s always a problem and an issue,” Antetokounmpo said. “But I try to kind of not focus on that. So as I said, my apartment in Greece, when I was younger, with my four brothers, was way smaller than the suite that I have in the hotel, so I’m just trying to enjoy the moment.
“This is something special,” he continued. “Hopefully, this pandemic never happens again so we never are able to come back in the campus, but at the end of the day, this is part of history, so just being able to be here, participate in this, I’m just trying to be in the moment, trying to enjoy every moment, trying to enjoy basketball. I’m happy that we’re back playing basketball, something that I love doing, so there’s nothing really to complain about.”
Even before entering the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World, Antetokounmpo said he thought “this is gonna be the toughest championship you could ever win” because of the circumstances. He jokingly admitted that he “sucked” during the Bucks’ first five-on-five scrimmage at Monday’s practice but thinks everyone will shake the initial rust once the ball is tipped for real competition.
Outside of basketball, Antetokounmpo hasn’t done much other than walking around a little bit and getting treatment in his room, but he plans to experience the players’ lounge at some point.
Even with his upcoming supermax decision full of uncertainty, with the new realities of the league in effect following the pandemic, Milwaukee’s front office isn’t worried about opposing players trying to potentially recruit him.
“Zero. We can only control what we can control. If it’s considered tampering or recruiting or whatever it is, in our league people talk, people are connected, people have relationships,” said Bucks GM Jon Horst. “At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league’s relationship, our coach’s relationship, his teammate’s relationship with Giannis in what we’re doing and what we’re about.
“I think that separated us and we’re going to continue to be above that and not worry about that. We can only worry about what we can control, to be the best that we can, to have the best organization of support and success as possible, and that’s really where our energy and our focus is. Also, just as a funny kind of side note, I think that technically violates the social distancing rules and I think everyone is getting tracked for that, so I think we’ll be OK that way as well.”
“Equality” will be the social justice message that Antetokounmpo will wear on the back of his Bucks jersey when NBA action resumes in Orlando. His teammate and brother, Thanasis, will be making the same statement, but he wouldn’t elaborate on why.
National Basketball Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN’s The Undefeated last week that “Equality” was the most popular message among players, with “Black Lives Matter” being second.
“I think it’s the most important thing to get people to realize that our lives do matter and that’s why I went with it,” Middleton said.
Milwaukee’s first game is set for Friday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. ET against the Celtics in Orlando.
Although Antetokounmpo is big on routine, he admits that the early practice schedule has “messed with my head a little bit” with the different times, but he has to be ready for everything as he looks to lead the Bucks to their first title since 1971.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and play,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not going to try to not be myself. I never wear headphones; I don’t listen to music before games or before practice because it brings a lot of emotions to basketball. I feel like basketball should be played with no emotions, so I’m just going to try to be myself.
“I had the national team coach when I was 17, he told me that ‘whenever you’re around in a place with a lot of players, you’ve just got to be yourself, keep to yourself, look them straight in their eyes and just give them a nod. Say hello, but be you.’ I’m not going to try to change who I am, but obviously if we can be here for three months, my goal is to be a better basketball player and a better person leaving this place.”
Source : ESPN