Giannis Antetokounmpo shares ‘joyful’ approach to 2020-21 season

Mar 7, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Mar 7, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

There’s a lot to be happy about these days for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The reigning back-to-back MVP is fresh off of putting in a perfect performance at this year’s All-Star Game in Atlanta, all of which catapulted him to victory with Team LeBron and help him earn his first All-Star MVP award. Scoring 35 points on perfect 16-for-16 shooting, including 3-for-3 from deep, Antetokounmpo continues to assert himself as one of the best scorers in All-Star history.

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It was when celebrating this latest honor and meeting with media afterwards where Antetokounmpo touched on the approach he’s taken to this season, which comes courtesy of the Bucks’ social media.

When asked by Bucks reporter Zora Stephenson about the joy that he brings every time he steps foot on the court, Antetokounmpo shared that it falls in line with the new outlook that he’s carried into this year:

"“Once you started having joy and don’t worry about the outcome of a game, everything will take care of itself. I believe fear and fun cannot go together. It’s either one or the other and this year, I’ve chose for it to be fun…I want every game I’m around my team to have fun energy. Not worrying about the outcome, not worrying about where we’re trying to get. Worrying about now and how we can enjoy this moment because as long as we come to the arena and come to work and we’re enjoying each other and what we do, it’s going to take care of itself. I really believe this.”"

Aside from the profound words that Antetokounmpo shared, it isn’t the first time that the 26-year-old has shared this line of thinking this season. It was only last month where Antetokounmpo preached patience at the nadir of the Bucks’ five-game losing streak, which they have since fully climbed out after having won six of their last seven games into the All-Star break.

While big challenges remain, Giannis Antetokounmpo is enjoying every moment this season.

For someone whose game is predicated on this sheer kind of dominance, which the Bucks followed suit in each of the last two regular seasons, it may come as a surprise for some to hear these kind of sentiments from a player like Antetokounmpo.

After all, Antetokounmpo is right in the prime of his career, the bulk of which is slated to be spent in Milwaukee after he signed his five-year supermax extension going into the start of this season. A player of Antetokounmpo’s caliber and age is generally thought to want to win at all costs, especially when the only thing left remaining in his trophy case is a championship ring.

Yet one can only wonder whether Antetokounmpo’s future that has since been decided has served as an interesting inflection point from how he’s looking to approach his career moving forward.

Like the Bucks as a whole, Antetokounmpo has embraced the ups and downs that he and the team are experiencing, all of which they believe will make them better when it matters most. While the pursuit of a championship still is paramount, Antetokounmpo no longer holds the one-track mind of winning at all costs as he and the Bucks know how regular season dominance doesn’t lead to a path paved with gold and an NBA title.

As Antetokounmpo has increasingly found his MVP gear this season, the joy and happiness that has long been associated with him has been seen just as much as his steely focus to be great on a nightly basis.

In essence, what we’re seeing with Antetokounmpo is an extraordinary player nearing on the middle of what is an illustrious career. His present and future has been secured with such a landmark decision while enjoying the joys of fatherhood raising his son off the court, who got a front seat of his father’s All-Star performance.

With no questions as to what his future holds or living and dying with the result of each game, the Bucks superstar is playing with a kind of freedom that has been palpable to see all the way back from when Antetokounmpo was a wide-eyed Greek teenager. And all of it makes for a fascinating look into someone who has captivated the attention of Bucks fans throughout his rise both as a player and more importantly, as a person.

Next. 4 reflections on first half of Bucks' 2020-21 season. dark

There is more work to be done once the Bucks’ season picks back up later in the work. But rest assured, Antetokounmpo will find the joy in the journey as he and the Bucks hope the destination is a ticket to this year’s NBA Finals.