Know your role like Giannis Antetokounmpo does.
There’s no denying that Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the top players in the NBA and his playoff dominance this year has solidified that. But the “Greek Freak” has been the subject of criticism from fans and analysts alike for some late-game performances during Milwaukee’s playoff run.
But he’s nothing if not honest and aware: Following the Bucks’ 113-102 win over the Hawks in Game 3, Antetokounmpo delivered a healthy dose of self-awareness of his role while praising running mate Khris Middleton:
Giannis on Khris Middleton, the closer, in part: “I want to be a winner. I have the whole game to be ‘the guy.’ I don’t care about being the guy in the fourth quarter. I trust Khris to death. If Khris asks for the ball, better give him the ball.”
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 28, 2021
“I want to be a winner,” Antetokounmpo said. “I have the whole game to be ‘the guy.’ I don’t care about being the guy in the fourth quarter. I trust Khris to death. If Khris asks for the ball, better give him the ball.”
Middleton erupted for 20 points of his playoff-high 38 in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game, helping tilt the series in the Bucks’ favor, 2-1. Middleton outscored the entire Hawks team 20-17 in the final frame.
In the Twitter-dominated discussion surrounding NBA players and fans declaring players alpha-males or clutch or any of those other bar top-type arguments, it’s certainly refreshing to read Antetokounmpo’s self-awareness and analysis for his teammate.
At the end of the day, Giannis just wants to be a winner, and if deferring to Middleton in key moments makes him so, that’s a nice, honest and fair admission to make.
Middleton (38 points, seven assists, 11 rebounds in Game 3) has been excellent in the playoffs, with three 30-plus point performances. He’s averaging 23.1 points, 4.7 assists and 7.1 rebounds this playoff run.
Middleton has certainly been an ingredient for Milwaukee’s run. More importantly, though, it looks like he and Antetokounmpo have discovered a winning playoff formula.