There’s loyalty, then there’s commitment. And then there’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won’t stop professing his love for both the Bucks and the city of Milwaukee.
On Friday, Antetokounmpo told The New York Times’ Marc Stein, “I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami. I don’t know if I could be the same player if I played in those cities.”
That has to be music to Milwaukee’s ears after The Greek Freak signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension in Sept. 2016 only to be named an All-Star starter and the NBA’s Most Improved Player shortly after.
Antetokounmpo is unlike anything or anyone the NBA has ever seen, and it appears — at least for now — he’s the Bucks’ to lose. Here are some of the other things Giannis has said about Milwaukee since he was drafted four years ago:
Also in his interview with Stein, Antetokounmpo praised Bucks fans and talked about Milwaukee as a city:
“I can feel the love from the city every day I step on the floor,” he said. “For me, what I’m going through now, I appreciate it even more.”
“There’s a lot of things you can do in Milwaukee, too.”
While big name NBA stars moved left and right in this summer’s wild free agency and trade season, Antetokounmpo tweeted a Kendrick Lamar bar that may have eased any concerns Bucks fans had of their star:
I got loyalty inside my DNA— GiannisAntetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) July 7, 2017
In a blog he wrote for Eurohoops.net (via NBC Sports), Antetokounmpo proclaimed his love for the Bucks’ leadership that drafted him 15th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He also explained why he loves Milwaukee and wants to stay for a long time:
The Bucks and John Hammond chose me in the draft, got me in the NBA, kept me in the team with a role from my very first season and they are my basketball family. Not only that, but already at this young age, they have enough faith in me as a leader and they are doing everything in order to develop all of my potential. From my side, I feel that I want to be playing in the Bucks. I’m not talking about my next contract. The way I feel now, I want to keep playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 20 years!
You never know how life turns out. Three years ago I was thinking that I might be playing for Filathlitikos forever! All of a sudden, the draft emerged, the NBA, the Bucks and everything that followed. I don’t know how I’ll be feeling and thinking in 2, 3 or more years. Right now I feel like I want to play for the Milwaukee Bucks forever…
I’m a guy who doesn’t really care about glamour and big markets. I like to be home all day. I get up in the morning, I take a shower and I go to practice. When I’m finished, the only thing that’s on my mind is to go back home and spend time with my family. I usually feel that I prefer to hide from people.
Back in 2014, he said he indeed would leave Milwaukee, but only after one accomplishment:
I'll never leave the team and the city of Milwaukee till we build the team to a championship level team..— GiannisAntetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) July 17, 2014
And in an October sit-down with TIME.com, Antetokounmpo said, “We’re gonna make sure we put Milwaukee on the map.”
So far this season, Giannis is averaging 31.3 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and a much-improved 35.3 percent clip from three-point range. (In each of his past three seasons, he shot 16 percent, 26 percent, and 27 percent from distance.) Add in 10.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, and you have a do-it-all Milwaukee Bucks star who could be the front-runner for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the Year award.
No player has ever won both Most Improved Player and MVP honors in their careers, let alone in consecutive seasons. And if Antetokounmpo — who, according to Bucks great Michael Redd, hasn’t even learned “how to play play” yet — pulls that off, Milwaukee fans should be very, very happy he’s this devoted to their city and their basketball team.