Last blog entry from Giannis Antetokounmpo: “It’s amazing what I’m going through”

Many thanks to Thodoris Galanos for translating Giannis Antetokounmpo’s latest blog entry from Greek sports site Sport 24, which offers fantastic insight into Giannis’ role on the team, his relationship with coaches and teammates and how he spends his time on a daily basis. Summary: Giannis is really sweet, and if you don’t cheer him on, you’re probably not human. You can check out Thodoris ‘translation of Giannis’ previous blog entry here. – Frank Madden

Hello everyone,

I wish you a happy new year with health and all your dreams are coming true. If you want something in your mind, you can do it. Just like in my case. Did anyone expect me to be here? Be part of the starting five of an NBA team? Everyone thought, or almost, that in my first season in the NBA, I would be the boy of the towel, the water and the ice. I accepted the situation knowing however that there is meritocracy and that with a lot of hard work, which started in September, only good things could happen.

I asked myself: am I ready to contribute?

I slowly started to gain respect in the team and one morning coach Larry Drew informed me that I will be in the starting five. I felt strange. Beautiful. Different. I can’t explain exactly how I felt, to be honest. I started to ask myself, “Am I ready to be in the starting five?” Will I play well? Will I help the team? However, my beginnings at Filathlitikos were very similar. I was on the teenage team and had to save my time by working hard on the men’s team. I had to earn everyone’s respect. Which is normal. Respect is not something that is given, but earned with a lot of hard work.

It does help me though that the coach talks to me every day. All the rookies see him daily, in private, for about ten minutes. He asks us how we feel in the team, what we don’t like and how we think we are improving. These meetings are very fruitful, a place where you can open up and express yourself freely.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have the confidence of Coach Drew. I see in his eyes, when he talks to me, how much he trusts me. Everyone in the team trusts me and wants me to improve, game after game. I feel like I’m improving, I need to be more consistent. I try, through matches and training, to improve myself. I realize that game after game, my contribution to the team is becoming more versatile. I try to do whatever I can on the floor. Play defense for me and my teammates. Fill in the gaps and gaps and, at the same time, engage in games with determination. I am interested in growing, game by game, and continually learning something new. Learn from my mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others. I feel like I’m improving, but I need to be more consistent in my production.

Against the Nets I had the first double double of my career, with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and I was very happy with it. I want to continue like this. Of course, I don’t like at all that our losses are more than our victories. But I am selfish and I want to win. We had a lot of injuries, which confused us.

My gift is the NBA. It’s amazing what I’m going through.

The last few days have been a little embarrassing for me. I mean Christmas days. For the first time in my life, I was not with my family. The good news is that my brother Thanasis came to Milwaukee for five days, so the loneliness was interrupted, even a little. We relaxed in the house, ate good food, watched movies, listened to music, walked around the car (since I have my license now); it was a nice break overall. I wanted to send gifts to my little brothers in Greece, Kostas and Aleksandros, but it would take them three weeks to arrive, so instead I sent them money to buy what they wanted.

For me, the best gift is the NBA. What I am experiencing is incredible. Even now when I walk on the ground I think it’s not real. Until seven months ago I played in ESKA and A2 [read: Greek lower divisions] and now I’m in the NBA. If it’s not a gift, then what is it?

Sanders spoils me.

I did however receive an expensive gift from my teammate Larry Sanders, who gave me a pair of Gucci shoes. I told him he shouldn’t have given me such an expensive gift. He said, “You are my recruit and I have to take care of you.” Maybe he spoils me so that I throw him more lobs!

All the veterans of the team have kissed me. Me and all the other recruits. We are like family and I love it. I admit that I am twice as happy, since I found myself in the right team at the right time and that I was given the chance to compete. I think it would have been torture not to play, with such a high rate of play and travel. In practice, you do the basics, so if you don’t compete, you stay behind. But, luckily, I even have the luxury of playing a lot and I can improve with each match.

I have the look of Kobe Bryant! Joke!

A really great time for me was when we traveled to LA to play against the Lakers. Unfortunately, Kobe didn’t play because he got injured again. From the second I set foot in Staples Center, I was looking for it. I wanted to see what he looked like up close. How tall is it, how does it move. We are talking about one of the best players of all time. When the match started, in a time out, I saw him on the bench. He had this killer
look, even though he was in his “civilian” clothes on the bench. I also have this look! Nah, just kidding!

I didn’t have time to see someone famous on the side court, but I was almost seriously injured. Shortly before the game was over, and when I was in the air for a rebound, Williams pushed me [Greek expression, you get the point]. I fell very hard on the ground. Everyone asked me if I was okay. It hurt a lot and I tried not to show it. On the bench Coach Drew came over and asked me: “Are you going to shoot the free throws?
or should i send someone else? I said to him, “Of course I am, who else?”

I like to walk on the road.

I liked LA in general. It was a break from the harsh winter in Milwaukee. We stayed at a hotel in Marina Del Rey, outside of LA. I constantly wore a t-shirt and rode a rented bike. Sanders was going with me too, but he was busy, after all, since his family was with him. I generally like to go out in every city we visit, get out of the hotel and walk around. With no particular destination in mind. I know that at any time I can call a taxi to take me back to the hotel. I like to go for a walk, because the day does not pass without him when we are on the road. After the morning practice, I have a whole day of my own. Sometimes Nate comes with me, the other rookie, who I spent a lot of time with. We also usually sit side by side on the plane, in the back seats.

I am in awe of all the fuss around my name in Greece. I did not expect that. I watch, via NBA Greece, everything that is written for me, and I also read the comments and posts on my Facebook profile. I feel great but also quite uncomfortable, because I’m not used to attracting attention. I hope my presence here will motivate more Greek players to come to the NBA. I hope the next one will be my brother Thanasis and then my younger brothers, Kostas and Aleksandros! It’s gonna be fun. I think there are young people who can play here, like Haralampopoulos. I believe him.

Can’t wait to be at All Star Weekend.

I can’t wait to be in February to participate in the rookie Challenge. Be the first Greek player to participate in the NBA All Star Weekend. As far as I know, I’ll be there. Hope I start. I also hope Nate is there.

The cold here is unbearable. I never walk around. I will freeze. So much snow!

Once again, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Be well and watch the Roe deer!

Giannis.


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