Giannis Antetokounmpo Covers SLAM 234, AVAILABLE NOW!

“Hey, BJ, this is Giannis. Is it cool if I come over to your house for the party?”

I keep in mind getting that text in 2018, soon after I returned to the Bucks for a short time. I was hosting a group celebration at my home in Los Angeles and welcomed everyone on the team. And Giannis, who’s a star already, strikes me approximately ask if it’s OKAY if he comes through. Giannis! I’m like, “Hell yeah! Of course!”

That’s simply who Giannis is. He’s among the humblest individuals I’ve ever fulfilled. You can simply inform he’s really grateful for whatever. When he was leaving of my home after the celebration ended, he resembled, Yo, BJ! Crazy celebration. Crazyyy celebration! It’s little minutes like that. Giannis being Giannis. 

SLAM 234 including Giannis Antetokounmpo is readily available now!

He and I linked a bit throughout that 2017-18 season. After I left the Bucks and he ended up being an MVP, he appeared to the Drew League in L.A. when I was hooping. He saw the video game and we talked for a bit. I constantly wished to appreciate his peace however was tuned in and rooting for him along the method. He was among the very best gamers in the League by 2018 however was still entering into his own as a leader. I believe these last number of years he’s most likely ended up being more singing than he was. I imply, all of us saw in the playoffs, when he remained in the huddle shouting at his colleagues to inspire them and things like that. He wasn’t truly like that when I existed, however that’s simply development. That’s simply ending up being more comfy. To me, he was constantly attempting to find out and improve. Always. His work ethic truly stuck out to me. He was appearing to the health club early and would be the last individual to leave. Everything corresponded. That’s something I’ve constantly appreciated about him—that consistency.

From the first day, even when we weren’t colleagues [Giannis’ rookie season in Milwaukee was the first season Brandon played for Detroit after four seasons with the Bucks.—Ed.], I might inform Giannis had possible. I keep in mind betting him throughout his very first couple of years when I was with the Pistons. Learning about his history and for how long he had actually been playing ball, I understood he had an opportunity to be excellent. I need to point out, however, due to the fact that I was re-watching old highlights just recently—I was advised of this play from my time in Detroit. I took the ball, had a breakaway and soaked it when Giannis was attempting to obstruct it. Then I recalled at him. So yeah, that was my one dunk on the Greek Freak. I’ll take it. 

Now that very same person—the one who as soon as texted me for consent to come to my celebration—simply brought a champion to the city of Milwaukee. Not simply that, however in my viewpoint, he’s ended up being the very best gamer worldwide. A two-time MVP. The 2020 Defensive Player of the Year. 

An NBA Champion.

The 2021 Finals MVP. 

I was really grateful for the chance to witness those most current achievements face to face. Being at Game 6—it was inexpressible. The feelings, the enjoyment, the energy, 65,000 individuals outdoors. It was the very first time I had actually been to the brand-new arena. I had actually never ever seen the city that turnt. Going to the video game, I was taking a look at all the Giannis jerseys and joking with my woman, like, “Wow, those used to be my jerseys.” It was surreal.

Truth is—those courtside seats were expected to be for Kanye. Two hours prior to tipoff, he informed them he couldn’t make it, so they wound up providing to me. I was simply, like, “Yo, it’s lit!” I had actually been stuck at house due to the fact that of COVID and striving on my brand name, Tuff Crowd, so that was my very first NBA video game all year. I was simply taking in the minute—sitting beside Dave Chappelle, getting in touch with the fans, and, naturally, cheering for the team. 

The environment because arena was outrageous. It truly took me back. It revived some unbelievable memories. While I was sitting there, in my mind, I thought of my 55-point night as a novice versus Golden State. I thought of my game-winning 3 versus Cleveland. I thought of us being down 0-2 versus Atlanta, going back to the Bradley Center and winning Games 3 and 4. I thought of those unique times when the city lived.

When I initially concerned Milwaukee in 2009, the Bucks hadn’t made the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. I can be found in with a great deal of fire due to the fact that I didn’t get to play a lot the year prior to when I remained in Italy. I had a lot to show going into the League. I had a chip on my shoulder. And I was talking insane. I don’t understand if Milwaukee understood what they were getting with me. I feel in one’s bones that those very first handful of video games when I came out, was rocking with the crowd and had all those various hairdos—I simply seemed like an early innovator. It seemed like the start of a brand-new period in Milwaukee. 

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And I felt a strong bond with the city instantly. What’s insane is, throughout my very first couple of seasons, I didn’t even return to my home town in Los Angeles. I remained in Milwaukee for the summertime and whatever. I was living there all throughout the year, simply being around the city and getting associated with the neighborhood. My years in Milwaukee had to do with more than simply basketball. The fans were so devoted. We made the playoffs two times while I existed, so I had a respectable four-year run prior to being traded to the Pistons. I had the ability to leave a little mark. And to see how the culture has actually continued to grow—you understand, that “Bucks in 6” culture. It’s incredible. What a time to be alive today.

To me, “Bucks in 6” is not simply an expression—it’s a state of mind. It specifies the city of Milwaukee. It’s a technique to fight. The more difficult you work throughout peace, the less you bleed throughout war. When you’re fighting and you’re down, no matter what, you gotta keep combating and keep pressing through that wall. Because you simply never ever understand. When I stated it in the past, individuals believed I was insane. We were the No. 8 seed playing LeBron James and the Heat—the very best group worldwide. The future champs. But I had this state of mind of simply keep combating. That’s that blue-collar, Milwaukee state of mind. Obviously, you’re not going to state you’re going to lose at anything in life. We’re constantly attempting to win. Sometimes it’s going to be harder, if we’re being reasonable. But I’m not going to state we’re going to lose. Ever.

This Bucks team had that state of mind this season. And now they’re champs. The parade—male, that was absurd. I at first believed I was getting on the group bus. They resembled, “Nah, we got you your own car.” So in my head, I’m like, “Oh, shit! Okay, let’s do this.” I might hear the “Bucks in 6” chants from the crowd. We struck that very first corner and somebody tossed me my very first beer. I consumed it and chucked it. The fans were simply going nuts. By the time we got towards downtown, I was currently, like, 10 beers in. Everybody who was tailgating and commemorating simply kept providing me beers. And I kept consuming them and kept chucking them. I practically tossed up, like, two times to be truthful. It’s like, “Bro, I’m on my 15th one. I’m tired.” By the time we got to the speeches, I had intoxicated about 20 beers. I was done. 

But in general, I had a remarkable time. I was so happy to be a part of that event with the city, and to have the fans accept me. Partying with PJ Tucker was wild, too. After the parade, we were getting intoxicated at some water park bar. It was unbelievable, delighting in those minutes with the whole group. Hopefully I can establish an even more powerful connection to the company moving forward. My dream is to end up being innovative director, so we’ll see…

I likewise need to scream out Giannis for repping Tuff Crowd at the parade. That was truly huge for me provided how tough I’ve been dealing with the brand name. I in fact considered that things to Giannis prior to Game 6. I offered him, PJ Tucker and Jrue Holiday a little bundle. But Giannis putting it on for that day, for the champion event, that’s history. That suggested a lot to me and reveals the kind of regard that he has for me. And I got the very same for him. 

For Giannis, I got one message: Just keep going. Keep God initially. And I’ll state it once again—the more difficult you work throughout peace, the less you bleed throughout war. Stay on that course. And end up being more than basketball. 

Lastly, to the faithful Bucks country: 50 years. The dry spell is over. This is what you waited on. This is what you desired. Now it’s time to take that very same energy and keep bringing it every year. Because as soon as you’re a champ, you’re permanently a champ. You can’t refuse now.

It’s still, and constantly will be, Bucks in 6. 

SLAM 234 is readily available now in these special Gold and Black Metal Editions.

Photos through Getty Images.

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