Giannis Antetokounmpo drew sympathy from some quarters when he stated during the NBA’s pandemic-created shutdown that he was isolated at home without access to basketball hoop.
Turns out, the comment was a bit of gamesmanship from the Milwaukee Bucks’ star forward.
“Anybody out there that thought I didn’t have access to a gym, they don’t even know me,” Antetokounmpo said Tuesday following the Bucks’ practice in the NBA’s “bubble” near Orlando. “So, I just said that to try to get a little bit ahead of the competition.”
Back in April, the 25-year-old Greece native said, “I don’t have access to hoop. A lot of NBA players have a court in their house or something, but now I just get home workouts. Ride the bike, treadmill, lift weights and pretty much stay sharp that way, but I don’t play basketball.”
Antetokounmpo is the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, and he ranks among the favorites to be honored again for the 2019-2020. Voting for this season’s honor will take into account only play before the NBA halted action on March 11 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Regarding MVP balloting, Antetokounmpo said Tuesday, “To be honest with you, I really haven’t thought about it. I saw it a couple days ago, that it ended. I tried not to focus on the MVP talks, who’s the MVP and all that.
“My goal is to get better each day to help my team win games and everything is going to take care of itself. That’s what happened last year. I was locked in and winning games and helping my teammates and it took care of itself. So, that was my main focus. Now, I know it’s going to be a lot of people out there talking about the MVP but that’s not my main focus.
“My main focus is to get better, win games, help my team play good basketball and go and try to win the big trophy. The last time we did that was ’71, so that’s my main focus right now.”
Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, both career highs, and both figures that rank No. 3 in the league. He also is contributing 5.8 assists per game.
The Bucks, who own the NBA’s best record, 53-12, resume play July 31 against the Boston Celtics.