Giannis Antetokounmpo talks loving Milwaukee, popularity in Greece

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It’s a good time to be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jason Kidd and the Bucks found an on-the-court role for him as a point-forward where he thrived at the end of the season. Also, he is eligible for a contract extension to his rookie deal this summer, and that is going to get him PAID — he is a clear max extension player and with that his salary in 2017-18 will jump to roughly $25 million a season (depending on the final salary cap numbers).

Antetokounmpo is not looking to get out of Milwaukee, saying at his exit interview he hoped to play 20 years for the same team like Kobe. He echoed the same sentiment to Jared Zwerling in an interview on the NBPA site.

“I love it, especially I’m not such an outgoing guy. Living here, it makes me more focused with basketball and my family—the two most important things in my life. I love to be here in Milwaukee—a really respectful, a really quiet city, not flashy, not fancy. A lot of fans approach me every day and give me words of wisdom.”

A lot of fans approach players in New York too, but far less rarely with words of wisdom.

Antetokounmpo said he plans to spend this summer working out with his basketball playing brothers — Thanasis (who played in the D-League for the Westchester Knicks and played two games for the Knicks themselves this season) and Kostas (who just finished high school and will play college ball next season).

“This is a really important summer for me, Thanasis and Kostas. We’re going to have our own training camps in Greece, Milwaukee and L.A.—just step away a little bit from everybody and just focus. When [our youngest brother], Alex, is done with school, he’s going to join us.”

The players are famous in Greece, which has had a good national team program for years. It’s something they are still adjusting, too.

“Last summer was pretty crazy. Me and Thanasis were just hanging out at our apartment and tweeted like five hours before that we’re going to be there to just play basketball. I thought there would be like 20, 30 guys, but like 2, 3,000 people came. And camera crews from every Greek channel came.”

The one key takeaway from the article — which you should read — is that Antetokounmpo is grounded. He has his family close, and that’s what matters to him. That and basketball. There’s always a risk giving a max extension to a young player, wondering if and how that kind of money may change him (in terms of focus or work ethic). The Bucks should have no such concerns.

Now they just need to build the right kind of team around them.