Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are set to defend their title as the 2021-22 NBA season approaches.
The Bucks held their 2021 media day on Monday as Antetokounmpo spoke to reporters for half an hour about the new season and challenges that will come with it.
The 2021 NBA Finals MVP is determined on looking ahead to what is in front of him, rather than dwelling on last season’s magical run.
“We’ve gotta get better, but we’re gonna take it day-by-day.” Antetokounmpo told WISN’s Stephanie Sutton. “Whatever happened in the past is in the past. We’ve got to focus on now. How can we get better right now?”
Antetokounmpo on his health: “I feel good.”
Following a long season that extended well into July for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, the 26-year-old said he feels good physically, but admitted that he does not want to push himself anymore than he has to, especially early in the season.
“I feel good,” he said, responding to a question from Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Obviously I’ve got to do my treatment, like always. Take care of my body. Just manage it, you know? There’s no rush for me. I’m good to go but if I feel pain again or whatever the case might be, I have to listen to my body. When you feel pain, it’s your body telling you that it’s protecting you. … I’ve played through pain; I don’t think now is the time to risk that, too early in the season. But at the end of the day I feel good physically, mentally. I’mma do whatever I have to do to be 100%. … That’s all I can do.”
Antetokounmpo is coming off the shortest offseason of his career, following last year’s title. The ninth-year forward did his best to fit some on-the-court work in this offseason while balancing his busy life. However, he admitted that it was not easy.
“Obviously I would like to have a full offseason, to work on my game even more, and improve stuff throughout the offseason like I’ve done in the past. But, you know, having a short offseason, that means you did well,” Antetokounmpo said. “But yeah, it was tough. It was tough. Being a father, having a lot of commitments that you have to do in a very short offseason. Enjoy some time with the team, and my family out in Greece. … Whatever time I had, whatever time I could during the day, I was focused on my craft, on how I could get better. Obviously dealing with the after-affect… from my injury… but you know, I love the game of basketball and I tried to spend as much time as I could because if I didn’t play basketball I wouldn’t be in this position.”
From hunters to hunted
The Bucks will have a different on-the-court experience in 2021-22 compared to what they have been through in recent years. No longer will they be the young, talented, hungry group looking to shock the world. Now they become the team with the target on their back. Antetokounmpo understands this and insists that his team cannot lose that hunger that has gotten them to where they are now.
“We all understand that teams are gonna be coming for us. But like, we have to have that hunting mentality, ourselves. Are we satisfied? I’m not satisfied. I’m not even close to being satisfied. And that’s the tone we’ve got to set as a team. And as the leader of this team, that’s the tone I’m going to set.”
The Bucks begin their title defense at home against the Brooklyn Nets on October 19th at 7:30 pm ET.