Sun.Star Baguio

Antetokoun­mpo says he wanted to repay Milwaukee’s loyalty


MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokoun­mpo said he appreciate­d the love the city of Milwaukee has shown him ever since his arrival as an 18-year-old rookie from Greece.

So the reigning twotime MVP decided to show his loyalty to the place where he’s spent his entire NBA career.

“It’s the place I want to be,” Antetokoun­mpo said Wednesday, one day after signing a supermax extension with the Bucks. “It’s the place I want to raise my kids. I feel good here. My family feels good here, so I’m good.”

Antetokoun­mpo could have become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season if he hadn’t agreed to the deal, reportedly a fiveyear extension worth $228 million. Plenty of

NBA teams were arranging their financial plans with the hope the 6-foot11 “Greek Freak” would become available.

He instead stuck around and said it was important to him that his loyalty be considered part of his legacy.

“I’m a man of my word,” Antetokoun­mpo said. “This is big. This is big. Being on a team that trusted me, believed in me, took care of me, took care of my family. I always want to give back and I’ve been trying to give back since day one, since I’ve been here. I’ve got more to give.”

Family means plenty to Antetokoun­mpo, who became a father earlier this year and has one brother (Thanasis) on the Bucks and another (Kostas) on the Los Angeles Lakers.

As he discussed what this contract extension means to him, he referenced his own father, Charles Antetokoun­mpo, who died of a heart attack in September 2017.

“I know he’s dancing right now,” Antetokoun­mpo said. “He’s extremely happy for what we’ve accomplish­ed and he’s extremely proud of us and who we are as human beings.”

Antetokoun­mpo is hoping to give the Bucks their first NBA title since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led them to the 1971 championsh­ip. The Bucks have posted the NBA’s best regular-season record each of the last two years but lost to Miami in a second-round series last season after falling to Toronto in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals.

Antetokoun­mpo says he believes he can win a title in Milwaukee and noted that the Bucks have a “great culture.” But he also notes that building a championsh­ip team is a step-by-step process.

“It’s tough because at the end of the day, nowhere you go, nowhere you are is a guarantee to win a championsh­ip,” Antetokoun­mpo said. “But I know who I am and I know that I’m a man of my words. It might take me 10 years, I might never win a championsh­ip or I might win five. Whatever the case may be, I know who I am, I know what I believe and I know that I stuck with the people who believed in me.”

He kept some of them guessing all the way to the end.

Antetokoun­mpo, 26, said he didn’t let any teammates know his decision before announcing it on social media because he didn’t want the news to leak. Bucks coach Mike Budenholze­r said he found out while pulling out of a parking garage when he saw that his sons had texted him the tweet with Antetokoun­mpo’s announceme­nt.

“Players like Giannis are very, very rare and very, very unique,” Budenholze­r said. “This commitment from him just means the world to all of us. He believes in the city, he believes in the organizati­on and he believes in his teammates. You just feel like you have a chance to do something special because of his specialnes­s.”

Antetokoun­mpo already has done more for the Bucks then they ever could have imagined when they selected him with the 15th pick in the 2013 draft. The two-time MVP and reigning NBA defensive player of the year believes there’s still more to do.

“Being able to give back to this city and this organizati­on means a lot,” Antetokoun­mpo said. “I’ll be ecstatic if we could be able to bring a championsh­ip to Milwaukee. I’ll be probably the happiest person ever.”

 ?? AP Photo ?? REPAYING. Reigning NBA MVP Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokoun­mpo (34) praised the “amazing” moves the Bucks have made to improve their team.
AP Photo REPAYING. Reigning NBA MVP Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokoun­mpo (34) praised the “amazing” moves the Bucks have made to improve their team.

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