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July 20, 2021

Khris Middleton

Milwaukee Bucks

Game 6 Postgame

Milwaukee Bucks 105, Phoenix Suns 98

Q. You and Giannis have been together forever. There was a hug with you, Giannis and Bud. What was it like to have Bud kind of join your group? Like you're already five years into knowing Giannis and you two are together and then Bud comes in and now three years later, you guys have gotten there. Feels like you guys have gone through some stuff. You couldn't shoot as much from the mid-range, you had to go to the rim. All those things along the way, what was that process like?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: It was all worth it for sure. Us challenging each other to be better, me being stubborn in some ways. But the thing I like, he challenged us all. I think we challenged him in certain ways to help us, but for the main part, he challenged us every day to be leaders, to fight through adversity, to change our games a little bit. Like I said, it's all worth it.

Q. I've told you what people say about you and you tell me, "I don't care, I'm just going to do my thing." What do you say to the naysayers that said you weren't good enough and the team wasn't good enough and now you're here as an NBA champion?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: I still don't care about what those other people say. At the end of the day, we knew what we need to do in this locker room and our organization and it seemed like it took forever, but it's not easy to get to this point or this stage.

Shout out to Phoenix Suns. Monty Williams came over and talked to us for a quick second. They challenged us and knocked us in the mouth the first two games, but I love the way we responded. We didn't give up on ourselves. Our home crowd was amazing, this whole playoff run, this whole season, even when we didn't have them at the beginning of the season. But to have them here at this point is amazing and I hope they enjoy it just like we are right now.

Q. I know you don't like to necessarily reflect on your journey, but a second-round pick where you didn't play a whole lot your rookie year and you get traded here, you probably could have came out after your freshman year of college, but you stayed. Do you ever think that all these things sort of happened and come together for a reason, for the greater good?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: Yeah, for sure. Not every path or every player coming out is perfect. You know, it's tough. To be in the league is tough. To be 450 players, 500 players, G League, all those players, but to stick with it and have faith and believe in yourself at all times, even when it's not going your way, to continue to keep working, that's what it's all about. That's what every player in this league does, even around the world, you keep working, you keep believing in yourself to get to this point.

Q. You had that tough second quarter. What was said in the locker room? You came out in the third quarter and fourth quarter and played a lot better. What was said in halftime?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: We got stagnant a little bit. You know, halftime, we made -- saw what we were doing wrong, basically. But in the second half it was all Giannis, I'm not going to lie. He got the ball; he dominated; he didn't settle. Forced his way to the rim. Forced his way to the free throw line. He held us down for the majority in the second half of the game.

Q. During this run-up, Giannis talk a lot about you and what you meant to him and he mentioned that Toronto series and what you went through and how that opened his eyes to you and you were the guy then for him to do this with, I'm guessing, you know, when did you realize he was the guy for you? Did you have that kind of turning point like he did?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: I mean, we had -- we formed a bond, a brotherhood since that first year we've been together. We struggled. We struggled together.

But we both saw in each other there was no give-up. It was all motivation to be better and not be embarrassed. Year after year we challenged each other to be better. Challenged each other to be better leaders, better teammates.

Yeah, I mean -- yeah.

Q. From the time you guys were down 0-2 to now, what did you learn about yourself and what did you learn about your teammates?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: We were down 0-2 against Brooklyn and came together as a group within our film session and talked it out. We all wanted to be on the same page and realized how we needed to play and what we needed to do. It was the same thing in this series. We never got down, we're still playing, we still have a chance. That's the way we felt, no matter if we were down in the game or the series, it didn't matter. We knew each time we took the court we had a chance to win. And we have everybody in the locker room and organization that believes and that is never going to give up until it's completely over. That's who you want to play with, guys who are going to fight to the end.

Q. Has it been easy to play with a player like Giannis or did it have its challenges?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: It's easy. You see a guy that wants to work, that wants to win, that's all you want as a teammate. Nobody's perfect. Everybody is going to make mistakes. I've made my share of mine and he's made his share of his, but at the end of the day we are always trying to win. Him, whoever, anybody that came into our locker room, into our organization, we want them to work, no matter what, if they are playing, if they are not, to continue to try to get better, because we knew that's the only way to get to this point is to work to be better as a person and work to be better as a team.

Q. This is obviously your championship, but for the city as well, I feel like you have a really unique perspective, you and Giannis, because you were here when things were tough. What does that mean for you -- I don't know if you identify as a Milwaukeean or if you still consider yourself South Carolina. What does it mean for the two of you and this city?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: For the city I'm sure it means everything. They have seen the work we put in to get to this point, trying to sell tickets to people to come to the game to now having it packed out and having I think 65,000 people outside the arena tonight. It's an amazing transformation.

But it's not just me and Giannis, it's whole organization. They did a great job of building things around this city, helping the communities around here and then getting them to come and cheer us on, that was our motivation for sure.

As far as me and Giannis, I forgot the second part of your question.

Q. That's okay.


Q. In the second quarter, was there anything that changed in the second half or was it just getting Giannis the ball?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: That was just us. Credit Suns defense. They were tough. They switched a lot and blitzed a lot and forced us to tough isolations or tough jumpers.

In the second half we told ourselves we had to come out and play like the first quarter, just attack and don't settle, and Giannis was a big part of that, just coming out and pin his head down and get it to the rim.

Q. You guys had been pretty much the best team in the league regular-season wise for the last couple years, close to a 71-win pace before the Bubble was necessary last year and seemed like this year you came in knowing you would want to tweak things to get over the hump. It seemed like there were some rough patches, 16-13 to start the year. How did going through that and knowing there would be lumps at the beginning, did that prepare you guys to potentially be behind in the series and to overcome certain things to get to where you are now?

KHRIS MIDDLETON: As a whole we used a lot of our failures as experience. We've been in a lot of situations our past years here. At the beginning of the year, we had a new team, a lot of new rotation guys, different guys step into the starting lineup and we knew it was going to be challenging, but we all said it was going to be worth it to learn and find out how to adjust and figure out what we needed to do in-game to win. We knew it wasn't always going to be pretty, we knew we were going to have to win different styles of ballgames, but that's the type of team you want to be, to throw different guys out there, different lineups out there, because you can't win the same way at this level.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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