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July 20, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks

Game 6 Postgame

Milwaukee Bucks 105, Phoenix Suns 98

Q. When you first started playing basketball, did you ever think a moment like this would happen?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: No, man. I started playing basketball just to help my family. Tried to get them out of the struggle, the challenges we were facing when we were kids. But I never thought I'm going to be 26 years old, with my team playing the NBA Finals. Just playing -- like, I was just happy just being like not even winning, just being a part of this, of this journey. But I never thought I would be sitting here with this right here and this right here (the championship and MVP trophies.) We've come a long way.

Q. When thinking about the country that your parents came from, what do you think about? Do you know what you represent to the continent and what do you think this title and those two trophies mean to the continent?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Obviously, I represent my country, both countries, Nigeria and Greece. A lot of kids from there. But not just from Nigeria; all Africa and all Europe. I know I'm a role model. But this should make every person, every kid, anybody around the world believe in their dreams. No matter whatever you feel when you're down, when you don't think it's going to happen for you or you might not make it in your career -- might be basketball, might be anything -- just believe on what you're doing and keep working. Don't let nobody tell you what you can be and what you cannot do. People told me I cannot make free throws. I made my free throws tonight and I'm a freaking champion. I made them when I'm supposed to make them. I'm joking -- actually, I'm not (laughter).

Just believe, man. I hope I give people around the world, from Africa, from Europe, hope that it can be done. It can be done.

Eight years ago, eight and a half years ago, when I came to the league, I didn't know where my next meal will come from. My mom was selling stuff in the street. Now I'm here sitting at the top of the top. I'm extremely blessed. I'm extremely blessed. If I never have a chance to sit on this table ever again, I'm fine with it. I'm fine with it. I hope this can give everybody around the world hope. I want them to believe in their dreams.

Q. Your journey as a pro. You played point guard. You developed off the bench. What does it mean with your journey?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: It's been a long journey. I've done it all, man. I did anything that I could just to be on the court, just to be in this position. I've not played. I've come off the bench. When I was 18, I started on the team. I went to the front office and told them to send me to the G League. I've played point guard. I've only defended. Slashed from the corners and everything. In my fourth year, I was able to lead as a ball handler.

I've done it all. Tonight, that's what I had to do. I had to do a little bit of everything. I had to defend, I had to rebound, I had to block. Did a little bit of everything.

But people that helped me throughout this journey -- John Hammond drafted me and believed in me, brought my family over here, made me feel comfortable like I was his son when I was homesick and I was alone in the hotel. Jason Kidd came to the team and pushed me. Told me do not shoot, but okay, you know, I develop other parts in my game, getting to the rim, just getting to the free throw line.

And Coach Bud. Coach Bud believed in me. He told me that that in order for me to win, in order for me to be great, I have to trust my team. I have to make the right pass. I cannot be stubborn. I have got to trust the process.

It was a three-year process. I want to thank all of these guys. I've done it all on the court and I've done it all off the court and I keep going. I can't stop. That's my personality. I cannot stop.

Q. When you signed your contract extension, I'm sure it was with this in mind. Could you imagine it happening for you the way that it happened?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: No. No. I just I couldn't leave. There was a job that had to be finished. The bubble did not pay us justice. Give credit to the Miami Heat. They played great. But they did not pay us justice. Everybody was feeling homesick. We are a family-oriented team and we wanted to see our families.

But coming back, I was like, this is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us. Even when we lost, the city was still -- went outside and you know, obviously I wanted to get the job done. But that's my stubborn side. It's easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It's easy. I could go -- I don't put -- I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship.

But this is the hard way to do it and this is the way to do it and we did it. (Expletive) did it. We did it, man.

Q. What else is there to say about your partnership with Khris?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I love Khris to death, man. I love him to death, man. It's crazy. But same thing I said out there: that he doesn't realize how much he pushes me to be great. He pushes me to be great. I had people push me to be great and be persistent and just be dominant and just keep coming and keep working hard. He's one of those guys.

You know, there was nobody in this world that I would rather do this journey with than that guy. He's been here since the beginning. He's been since the day since we were fighting for some minutes. He was yelling to me when I was 18. He was yelling to me to pass the ball and everything. We were fighting on the court when we were kids, and now we're on this stage doing it together.

We have to enjoy this moment. We have to share this moment. Maybe we might not have another moment like this. Who knows, we can't predict the future. But we have to live in the moment, enjoy this moment. I hope Khris enjoys it with his family. And he played amazing throughout the whole playoffs, man. He led us when I was down. He gave me a chance to come back.

But once we're done enjoying this, we got to get back to work. We got to do it again. That's how me and Khris operate.

Q. When you were on stage for the regular season MVPs, you didn't want those chants or those calls. Is that a different kind of MVP?


Q. You know what I mean, terms of what this is?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I don't want anybody -- I remember the summer after I won my first MVP, I was happy. I was happy with my family, but at the same time I was miserable. Like everywhere I went, it was like, MVP.

It's done. It's over with. It's done. It's in the past. Got to do it again. And I was able to do it again. This year I wasn't able to do it. I don't know why, but okay.

But this, this is a feeling, like this is an addictive feeling. I love playing in the playoffs. I love playing in the Finals. This is the moments I want to chase. I want the team to build off this and hopefully we can do it again.

Q. Back in 2017, Kobe gave you the first challenge for MVP and you made it two years after. In 2019, Kobe said championship, and two years after, you made it again. What does that mean for you to have Kobe Bryant believe new when you were 22 years old and give you a new challenge and you made it?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: It means a lot. It started almost like a joke at first. It was a challenge to players, and I was like, let me just shoot my shot, kind of like, what's my challenge, and he was like MVP. But at first I was, like, joking. I didn't think he was going to respond to me.

But when he did, he made me believe. I'm like, Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this and I can play at a high level and build my team and win my MVP? I had to do it. I had to work hard. And to not necessarily let him down. I had to work hard because people believed that I can do it. That's the thing. I'm a people pleaser. I don't like letting people down. I don't like -- when I signed with the city of Milwaukee, that's the main reason I signed because I didn't want to let the people down and think that I didn't work extremely hard for them, which I do. But to be able to accomplish those things, it's crazy. It's unreal. It's freaking unreal. I can't believe it.

Q. And I saw the tears drop. What were you thinking about when the whole -- like all the emotion?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I was like, this is going to hurt tomorrow. I'm joking.

Q. What were you thinking?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: The whole journey. In order for me to be in this position, how much my parents sacrificed. How much my parents sacrificed. I saw that every day. My mom, she worked extremely hard every day for me to be in this position and she never pressured me to do other things. This is for my dad; that he's watching from above and he can see it. And this is for my significant other, also. Every day, she helps me be better, a better person. She let me do what I'm supposed to do, and she takes care of my son and my next son. And my brothers.

I can be stubborn sometimes. I can disconnect myself from the world because I want this so bad. I wanted this so bad, and I was able to get it. That's whu I was tearing up. But people helped me to be in this position. I didn't do it by myself. Every freaking day, people helped me.

And I want to thank my dad, my mom, my significant other, Mariah, and my brothers and my son, and the people throughout the journey that helped me.

Q. What do you put up on the marker board after that? It's a zero. There's no more game countdown or anything like that.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Party (laughter). This is time to party. No, I'm joking.

No, you know what I want? I'll be serious with you. This might sound cocky -- I want to develop a time machine that I can go back in time in my rookie year to win the Rookie of the Year. And if I win the Rookie of the Year, I've won it all. And then late in my career, I'm going to win Sixth Man of the Year, too. I'm going to come off the bench. I'm going to tell Bud that I want to come off the bench.

But no, this is the time to celebrate and spend some time with my family, to devote myself to them, to my mom, to my significant other, Mariah, to my son. And then this is going to be a quick turnaround. You know, we're going to be back and a lot of people are going to come after us, and we have to be ready for that. We have to be ready.

Q. You changed a lot from all those years ago. When you were 19, I think you were at Summer League with you tweeted something about, "I'm not leaving Milwaukee until I win a championship."

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I'm out now. Can I leave now?

Q. That's your call.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I want a trade. (Laughter.) Who do I have to talk to about a trade? Jon? I want a trade.

Q. For you, just thinking of that 19-year-old kid, that's a statement I don't know if you understood it?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I didn't understood it. I wouldn't make that statement. But that's what I believed. I believed. You know little kids are very honest? You know, a five-year-old kid, I might be gaining some pounds, and he goes, you're fat, like brutally honest? That was me at that point. I was so honest. After the Summer League, we played four games, five games, and we like lost all of them.

I was like, okay, I'm going to win a championship with Milwaukee. I'm going to do whatever it takes in order for me to win it. And we did it. We did it, man.

This was an amazing journey. The outcome was great, but even if the outcome wasn't great, thank you for doing your job. It was easy to deal with you guys. Khris, take it. Do your thing.

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