Complacency is not a word you’re going to find in the dictionary of Giannis Antetokounmpo. His desire to win, and perfect the imperfect, becomes progressively more obvious every time he takes the floor.
Through 10 games this season, the reigning league MVP is averaging 29.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. He has surpassed 30 points in five straight games, one shy of the Milwaukee Bucks all-time record.
But, you can tell that he’s not satisfied.
“They’re not going to give us anything,” he told The Athletic before the start of the 2019-20 season. “We just have to go out there and take everything that we want and we gotta earn everything this year.”
The Bucks wrapped up a four-game road trip with a win in Oklahoma City on Sunday evening. Antetokounmpo left the arena, most importantly, with a victory. He also offered to accept an invoice for the sign he kicked a massive hole in.
Seems out of character for the very mild-mannered Greek Freak. The same guy who didn’t even bat an eye when a Milwaukee restaurant didn’t have room for him after a game. He’s down-to-earth and by all accounts extremely polite to every fan, and TMZ camera, he encounters.
Except after he airballs a free throw and his team trails at halftime.
Well…apparently Giannis was a little frustrated with how the first half went. He just kicked a hole in this thing in the hallway 😂. pic.twitter.com/h35Vol7Fo3
— Gabe Ikard (@GabeIkard) November 11, 2019
When asked after the game if he was surprised that he left a hole, he responded that he’d be surprised if he hadn’t. Then, more fitting to his character, offered to repay the damages.
That outburst wasn’t the only one from Sunday’s game either.
Moments before showcasing his soccer skills, Antetokounmpo was angry and ripped his jersey Lou Ferrigno style. The culprit was the aforementioned foul shot.
Giannis ripped his jersey in frustration after air balling a free throw 😯 pic.twitter.com/U4FRIXWdc7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 11, 2019
“More often than not he is very professional and understands himself well,” Coach Mike Budenholzer said when asked about coaching a superstar when he’s visibly mad at himself. “He knows what he needs to do. Try to stay out of his way more than anything.”
On the season, Antetokounmpo is shooting a career low 64.5 percent from the foul line, air-balling on numerous occasions.
Budenholzer previously offered the “just shoot them” advice. Knowing that he’s capable of hitting above a 70 percent clip, as he has for most of his career, this is just another facet that he seems determined to perfect.
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has led some of the most competitive players in league history. The name Kevin Garnett ring a bell? But, when the Bucks visited LA on this recent road trip, Rivers pointed out that Antetokounmpo plays with an assassin like mentality.
“When you’re playing Giannis you have to deal with his approach,” Rivers said. “He’ll try to kill you if he can and you have to stand in there and take the fire.”
Nine dribbles, a deep breath, stare at the rim and rise to the balls of his feet in one smooth motion.
That’s his routine from the line.
Relentless work on and off the court. Even on days when the team doesn’t mandate practice.
That’s his approach to the game.
Sometimes a mental obstacle, or sign or jersey collar, just needs to removed first.