Giannis Antetokounmpo had come to the NBA idolizing Kevin Durant. So comparisons to Nicolas Batum – a great role player – didn’t sit too well.
The Bucks’ road to the 2021 NBA championship has been one built out of incredible hardships. They played their backsides off during a championship run that caps off a long road to relevance.
Milwaukee had never truly been an NBA championship threat since the time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded and took a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975. They’ve had periods of sporadic playoff success a couple of times after that, but no serious championship buzz.
Sidney Moncrief’s teams made 3 Conference Finals in the 80s, but they ran into the juggernaut Celtics and Sixers teams of that time each year. Ray Allen and his Bucks were desperately unlucky in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals to run into the Sixers.
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The arrival of Giannis in 2013 was heralded as a project move with a crazily high ceiling even at that time. The way the Greek Freak has capitalized on the opportunity, improved his physique and game and led the Bucks to a world championship since then has been nothing short of a fairytale.
“If I become Nicolas Batum, I’m going back to Greece”: When Giannis joked about Clippers star
But the path to get to the top is always a gruelling one, loaded full of obstacles. The Greek Freak knew this, but he also knew that he really only wanted to be at the very top of his sport.
His desire to excel, be the best and improve meant that Giannis could only set the loftiest goals for himself. So when his coach Josh Oppenheimer implored him to study French Swiss Knife Nicolas Batum closely, he didn’t quite like that.
According to Mirin Fader, who’s released a book on Giannis recently, he hit back with a solid one-liner that is trending on NBA Twitter today:
“Coach, if I become Nicolas Batum, I’m going back to Greece.”
Giannis when his own coach said Nic Batum was his ceiling. pic.twitter.com/Eet4cNeSnA
— Andrew Goldstein (@AndyGold24) July 21, 2021