Jul 1, 2020
Giannis Antetokounmpo Press Conference Transcript on NBA Restart
Basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo took part in a press conference today where he talked about the NBA season restart, saying this will be the “toughest championship to win” due to not being able to see family and not being able to have fans. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:01)
Hey Giannis how’s it going?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (00:02)
How are you doing?
Speaker 1: (00:04)
Good. Good. So obviously this is new for everybody getting back into the swing of things in July. With all the time away, what do you think that has done to your game and to your skills and to your health and how do you think that’s affected some of your teammates too as you start to get to see them more?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (00:27)
First of all we had time away. What was it? Like four months away from the game. Yeah the opportunity to spend time with our families. I think a lot of basketball players around the league really enjoyed that. Obviously we didn’t have time to practice as much as we wanted to, but now that we are able to get back and play, practice and shoot around, shoot a little bit it’s kind of like helping us get back to where we were before the season got canceled. But yeah, I think I’m excited. My team is excited. I’m real excited too for the citizens to resume again.
Speaker 1: (01:08)
And just a kind of quick follow up, do you feel like you’ve been able to get better? Do you feel like it’s made things a little bit harder kind of set you back a little bit? Where do you kind of feel like you stand?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (01:20)
Can you hear me? So I think I had the opportunity to get better, obviously mentally. It’s tough to not play basketball for a while but you’ve got to figure out other ways to get better. I had the opportunity to get done stronger, but we’ve been in the gym for a couple of weeks now. So I used the opportunity to try to sharpen my tools a little bit. And as I said tried to get ready for Orlando.
Speaker 3: (01:52)
Next question, Eric Naim from The Athletic.
Eric Naim: (01:55)
Hi Giannis. I’m curious you have a newborn son at home, you went out of your way to participate in marches, supporting the black lives matter movement in Milwaukee. How much consideration did you give to not playing, not going to Orlando? And now that you are, how do you feel about that with so much going on in the country and in the world?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (02:16)
You know obviously participating and going out there and march with the people is just the less that I can do. Obviously I wanted to show the people of Milwaukee and the people out there that I’m here. Obviously I play for the Milwaukee Bucks but I wanted them to know that I’m down there with the people. I’m accessible, they can see me. I’m going to be there in the streets with them. I brought my family, I brought my son out there with them. So it’s something that I felt I wanted to do. What was that? What was the second question you asked Eric?
Eric Naim: (02:54)
Did you consider not playing at all or anything like that? Or how have you kind of helped teammates through that whole idea of whether or not we should play or not play?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (03:02)
It’s kind of hard. You’re in a tough position because obviously I’ve worked personally seven years in a team I’ve worked all season long for being in a position to go out there and win a championship and they know just that being taken away from you that’s kind of hard. So in my head I was like, “Okay, I know the NBA is going to make that decision and the safest decision for us.” But at the end of the day, I got to be ready. I know what the goal is, the goal is to win the championship, the goal is to get better. So mentally I was just trying to stay ready.
Speaker 3: (03:37)
Next question will be from Lori Nickel with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Lori Nickel: (03:43)
Hi Giannis. I wondered what questions or concerns you had for the league to feel safe about playing and what I mean by that is did you ask about the medical facilities down there or the staff or how frequently testing? What were you concerned about and what were you reassured with whatever answers you got?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (04:01)
You know obviously everybody we know that we’re going to go down [inaudible 00:04:05] everybody’s concerned about how safe it’s going to be. Are we going to be able to stay in the campus? Are we going to be able to leave the campus? Are we going to be able to bring our family there from day one? How is the format going be? How are we going to play games? So it’s kind of weird. It’s weird. Obviously we have no fans out there. Our families are not allowed to be in the campus for the first few weeks. So it’s not something that I haven’t done before. I’ve done that in Europe obviously it’s kind of like in my opinion it’s kind of like a FIBA tournament. Going to a hotel, stay there for not two weeks, three weeks. They live for a little bit longer that’s the goal.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (04:49)
But at the end of the day I think the most important thing that I asked is is it going to be safe? And I know the NBA and the NBPA worked together to make this place as safe as possible. And I trust them. At the end of the day we got to do our job and I know that the NBA is going to do their job and the NBPA are going to do their job to keep us as safe as possible to make this transition as easy as possible for us.
Lori Nickel: (05:16)
And just a quick follow up, you don’t have concerns about there’ve been some young people who’ve had some lung issues longterm. We don’t know much about the virus. You’re just going to have to trust the process or do you have a little concern? Thank you.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (05:30)
Obviously, as I said everybody has concern about the health. Nobody wants to put themselves in the risk out there. But at the end of the day that’s what the NBA chose and that we are going to resume the games. And we all got to do our job and my job is to play basketball and go out there and support my teammate and represent the city. But for sure, I think me, my teammates, my family, especially my mom, everybody has concern about our health and my health.
Speaker 3: (06:11)
Next question will be from Malika Andrews with ESPN.
Malika Andrews: (06:18)
Hi Giannis, I have two quick questions for you. One, I’m just curious what now your workouts are able to look like, what are you able to do? What are they allowing from a safety standpoint? And then also you guys worked really hard to put yourselves in a position to have the one seed now that’s taken away. So what’s going to be the key to kind of maintain that advantage as you face some teams that you would have had that home court advantage over and now that that advantage is taken away?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (06:46)
First of all in the practice we can lift and we can just shoot. That’s pretty much it. It’s kind of weird I’m not going to lie to you. Training tables are like six feet apart from one another, coaches are wearing masks. We got to be really careful after we shoot. We got to leave the court and allow the next person to come in and shoot. So it’s kind of weird, you’re not as close to your teammate as you would want to be. But as I said at the end of the day we have a goal, which is to get better and win the championship. And we’re going to try to do that with every means possible. Now that we don’t have the advantage anymore it kind of a little bit sucks a little bit, because like we worked all year to play at home, play with our fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (07:42)
We’re kind of hard to beat at home. We have unbelievable fans that support us every night and I’m not being able to have them out there I think it’s going to hurt a little bit. But at the end of the day we don’t have fans, the other teams don’t have fans. And I heard that the NBA might find a way to give us in a different way advantage, maybe give a person a seventh foul or give us a second coach’s challenge, stuff like that. So I’m excited and I’m waiting to see what that’s going to be. But at the end of the day not being able to play our home, our fans is going to be hard.
Malika Andrews: (08:27)
Just quickly, is that important to you? That making up in some way, working with the NBA to make up that advantage, whatever that could be?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (08:37)
Yeah. It’s important. Obviously if we could get the one person to get like a seventh foul, we get like extra time out or a coach’s challenge it obviously is going to help the team. The foul’s definitely going to help me. But at the end of the day, we got to do what we got to do. How do you guys say here in America? This is the card that we got dealt us so we just got to play with them.
Speaker 3: (09:07)
Next question we have Steve [inaudible 00:09:10] with Associated Press.
I was just wondering as a new father, just being away from your family for at least a few weeks, how difficult is that going to be? Just the bubble experience of not being with your family. And also you said you compare it a little bit to a FIBA tournament, but what’s the mental grind going to be like being stuck in that bubble and how do you kind of prepare for it?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (09:36)
Obviously being a new father I’ve had the opportunity now for months to being able to see my son grow and be around him. Because if the season like we we’re still playing I’d probably miss a lot. So I’m extremely blessed that I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my son and obviously going to Orlando is going to be really tough for everybody because we’re not going to be able to see our family for a few weeks. So we’ve got to be prepared for that because I don’t know if… Like we play, like we travel so much, but even on the road you can bring your family. We traveled for seven days and after the week you see them again. But now just going in there for like a month or a month and a half before you see your family, that’s going to be tough. But I’ve done this in FIBA before.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (10:32)
I’ve traveled to China, I’ve traveled to France and staid for two, three weeks in a hotel just playing basketball. Obviously it’s tough. When you would go there for two weeks, three weeks in FIBA it’s really tough. I can’t imagine going there for three months, I think the game is going to be played mentally a lot. Not being able to see your family, be there for three months playing games with no fans. So it’s going to be mental. You’ve got to push yourself through this. But at the end of the day I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is going to be how you guys say the star next to this championship. I feel like at the end of the day this is going to be the toughest championship you could ever win. Because the circumstances are really, really tough right now. So whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it.
Speaker 3: (11:34)
Thank you. Next question, Greg Mansik WTMJ radio.
Greg Mansik: (11:39)
Hi Giannis. Good to see you. With all of our behaviors have changed here over the last several months, and we’ve been told to socially distance and steer clear of one another. You can’t really even practice with your teammates yet. How challenging do you think it will be to play a contact sport after months and months of socially distancing and trying to stay away from people? Do you think you’ll be able to play the way you normally play?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (12:04)
Yeah, I think we’re going to be able to play like we normally play. Obviously I think a lot of players miss basketball and once basketball is back, a lot of people are going to go a hundred percent, going to go full speed. But yeah, I know that in Orlando that everybody that’s going to be there is going to be healthy. So it’s easy, it’s not going to be hard I think.
Speaker 3: (12:32)
Thank you, Greg. Next question will be from Tim van Boren from WITI TV.
Hey Giannis. Thanks for your time today first and foremost. Two questions for you, one basketball, one more emotional. Basketball wise and kind of touching on the last question. What level of play do you anticipate seeing in Orlando? What’s the caliber of basketball going to be like down there? And then on the emotional side of things, kind of where are your spirits now? Just you as a person are you more concerned? Are you excited? Are you weary? What’s going through your mind as you get ready for this experience?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (13:12)
Obviously I think like once we get to Orlando the level of basketball a lot of guys are going to go full speed because a lot of players miss basketball. But I don’t expect in the first game or second game or third game guys going to be a hundred percent. Guys are going to be rusty, you’re going to see a lot of balls, people throw the ball through the stands or turnovers, you’re going to see that. But I think as we move forward, as guys get more comfortable, the level of basketball is going to get better this game. Me personally I’m excited, obviously kind of worried and don’t know what to expect once I get there. Oh, blackout.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (14:06)
So yeah, I don’t know what to expect when I get there, but at the end of the day I want to play basketball. I want to go out there with my teammates again and win some games and go out there and play for something, chase a goal. So I’m excited and a little bit concerned too. And obviously I don’t think there’s going to be any player that’s not going to be a little sad leaving their family behind, but it is what it is and you got to do your job.
Speaker 3: (14:39)
Next question Zuora Stevenson with Fox Digital.
Zuora Stevenson: (14:45)
Hey, hope you’re doing well. So with the NBA schedule you’re no stranger to packing, but a couple of weeks is different than potentially three months. So what do you have to have in your suitcase and how do you even begin to lay out all you’ll need for that amount of time?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (15:03)
Zuora I’m not going to lie to you I’ve never packed my bag. My girlfriend do that for me. But I know whatever she puts in there is going to be a lot of probably shorts, a lot of t-shirts. I know there’s not going to be no cameras, no NBA access so they told us we get like a dress-up with our team gear. All I got to take is probably my iPad so I can watch some film and my phone.
Speaker 3: (15:35)
Stephanie Sutton WISN television next question.
Stephanie Sutton: (15:41)
Hi Giannis. Can you hear me are you okay? I hope you’re feeling well and speaking of that, I’m just wondering how you were doing health wise? Has this time off during the pandemic been beneficial for you that way? And also, do you feel like perhaps you guys have lost a little momentum now that it’s been a few months since you’ve played together now going back and resuming the season?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (16:05)
Health wise I feel great, I feel a hundred percent healthy. I feel like I’m going to need to go. Obviously I know that I’m going to be a little bit rusty. I haven’t played five versus five in a while. But I’m excited to get back to practice with my teammates. I’m excited to play games. What was the second question? I forgot sorry.
Stephanie Sutton: (16:32)
The second question was are you concerned at all that your team, the Bucks have lost a little momentum because you’ve had this time off during the pandemic as the season resumes now?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (16:43)
No. I think every team in the NBA lost momentum. Everybody stopped playing basketball and everybody stopped playing games. So I think we’re just going to pick it up right where we left from. I think we’re a great team, great players, we have great chemistry on the court and off the court. So once we start playing again I think we’re going to be just fine.
Speaker 3: (17:13)
All right. Next question Lance Allen WTMJ television.
Lance Allen: (17:18)
Giannis great to see you. How are you doing?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (17:19)
I’m good. How are you doing?
Lance Allen: (17:22)
Awesome. Glad they didn’t turn the lights out on you so I can ask this question. You talked about flipping the switch a little bit and competing for a title, but you also honestly talked about Mariah and Liam and probably not seeing them for most if not the entire run. How do you balance all the things that are going on yet flip that competitive switch? And I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but the kind of the followup to that Giannis is if something would happen and you wouldn’t be to complete the journey to a title, how would you process that as well?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (17:54)
Yeah, that’s life. If something happened and knock on wood, we not able to go the way win the whole thing that’s life. You just get better from it, learn from it and come ready next year and go at it again. That’s how life is. Sometimes you want something so bad you don’t get it. But at the end of the day, if you really, really put your mind and your focus in everything on it the eventually it’s going to happen. So yeah, you got to be ready for both scenarios, win or lose. But I can’t worry about that. I have to worry about how me and my teammates get better every day individually, as a team and not trying to focus as much in the future and the outcomes. Trying to focus like now being in the moment all the time and we just go and see what’s going to happen.
Lance Allen: (18:58)
Do you flip the switch Giannis competitively when you get to Orlando?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (19:01)
Oh yeah, for sure. I kind of feel like being at home and I’m really competitive as a person. Like I kind of feel like there’s not a lot of things that I can compete with Liam against or with my family. So I’m excited and happy to play basketball again because I can go out there and compete against other players again in other teams.
Lance Allen: (19:32)
Thanks for the time.
Speaker 3: (19:33)
Eric Naim, The Athletic.
Eric Naim: (19:37)
Speaking of that kind of idea, there’s times when you don’t love speaking with us on game days, because you don’t want to give another team bulletin board material. You’re about to live in the same place as the other eight or so top teams in the league. How are you going to approach walking around a campus and seeing LeBron or seeing whoever it may be as you kind of try to handle this world where you’re literally living with the people you’re going to compete against?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (20:08)
I think it’s going to be hard. Obviously when you go against somebody you don’t want to live with him, you don’t see him every day. You don’t want to go down and grab lunch or dinner and see them right there in front of you. But at the end of the day I’ve done that before, I’ve played a couple of FIBA tournaments. That’s how it is in FIBA. So I just got to stay locked in, mind my business, don’t say much. Obviously I’m going to see them, but they’re going to see me too so it goes both ways. But I’m just going to try to mind my business and be about myself try to self improve myself mentally and physically and just get ready for games.
Speaker 3: (21:00)
We’ll have time for two more questions. Steve Ashburner nba.com.
Steve Ashburner: (21:10)
Hi Giannis. I’m curious with this layoff as long as it’s been, how much or how little have you been able to get a feel from teammates? If anybody amongst your team has had a tougher time dealing with this layoff, some of the challenges of isolation and inactivity. Do you have a sense of how everybody has come through it and then looking forward what can you do as a team leader to make sure that this bubble concept is not going to be too much for one of your friends and teammates?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (21:44)
Obviously I can speak for myself, my teammates I think they’re excited to play in Orlando, to play basketball again, to go out there and chase the title. But obviously behind closed doors it can be differently. But as a team leader I got to be ready because I think like a lot of guys in the team follow my lead. And my personal goal is to win the championship and I got to be ready for no matter what they throw in our face or in our table I got to be ready for that. So hopefully my teammates can be ready for that also.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (22:30)
But talking with them in the few days I’ve see them in the practices it’s kind of hard because we all have different times that we can shoot. We can not be altogether in the locker room and all that. I feel like everybody is ready for this journey. Obviously it’s tough we all understand that. But as I said they’re ready for this journey and as a leader I’m going to try to make it as easy as possible for them. But I that’s got to start with the organization, the MBA. So you can make the transition as easy as possible for them. But at the end of the day if my teammates need me I’m here for them.
Speaker 3: (23:11)
Okay we’ll pause on Eric Woodier, ESPN.
Eric Woodier: (23:14)
What’s up Giannis? Can you hear me? Giannis, so we spoke before earlier this year man and you talked about your goal is obviously wanting to be one of the greatest players of all time, man. Under these conditions, with this being one of the toughest championships, what do you think it does for not only you, but the other players to really try to execute and really go out and get a title this year? You spoke about it a little bit earlier, but going a little more in detail about that. What does this title do for whoever comes out on top of this with everything they have to go through?
Giannis Antetokounmpo: (23:49)
I feel like as I said before, this is the toughest title. Obviously you go somewhere without your family for four months, three months and you haven’t played basketball for three and a half, four months. Obviously whoever team wants it more has got to be mentally prepared for all this situation and got to go out there and execute. And whoever plays the best because at the end of the day teams got to be in shape. So whoever is in the best shape and took care of themselves for this three and a half months, four months that we wasn’t able to play is going to be in a better position than other teams. So I want to be one of the best players to ever play the game. I did the best job I could do and tried to stay ready and try to have my team ready for this new journey that we are about to go and leave and play games. But as I said, whoever wants more, whoever is mentally prepared for this what’s going to go on in Orlando that’s the team that is going to come on top.