Bobby Portis remains the ultimate professional for the Milwaukee Bucks

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 08 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 08 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

From the moment Bobby Portis signed with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020 offseason, he made it known that he came there to win. Even if that meant he would have to sacrifice a starting opportunity or strike out on a bigger paycheck elsewhere, Portis was willing as he believed joining the Bucks gave him the best chance to win. The big man quickly found his footing with Milwaukee as the backup center to Brook Lopez, having thrived in that bench role as the Bucks went on to win their first championship in 50 years.

Looking through Bobby Portis’ significant role change in year two with the Milwaukee Bucks

This year, Portis’ role has been drastically altered. With Lopez unexpectedly undergoing surgery in December to address some back issues, Portis was tasked with stepping into the starting lineup in the meantime. It was the first time in his ongoing career that the big man was legitimately given a chance to start full-time, and he played outstanding basketball. Portis shattered virtually all of his previous career bests statistically with this expanded opportunity and truly helped the Bucks stay afloat without Lopez.

As Portis was putting up career highs nightly, the biggest question is whether or not Milwaukee could genuinely move him back to the bench when Lopez inevitably returned. After all, would the Bucks demote a player that had been playing this well? How would Portis react to being sent to the bench after he played so well throughout his stint as a starter? Well, all of these questions were answered during a recent shootaround by none other than Portis himself.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Portis let it slip that Lopez would be returning to the starting lineup and he would be back on the bench later that night against the Chicago Bulls. Provided by the Bucks’ YouTube page:

"“Obviously, Brook is the starting center for the Bucks. I came back to this team knowing that he was the starting center, so me going back to my normal role is just normal. I signed back to this team knowing I was potentially not going to be a starter anyways. When you’re competing for a championship, obviously, throughout the NBA season, injuries will happen, a trade will happen, whatever is going to happen, and it’s going to always shift your role and things like that. I was shifted into a starting role to hold it down until he got back and he’s back now, so he’s going to start.”"

Sure, Portis could have been irked by this, and not many people may have blamed him, given how strongly he had played during the season. However, that is not who Portis is. He has always been a team-first player, and he was always under the impression that his role as a starter was only for the time being. If Portis believed sliding back into the second unit was the best way he could help the time, he would do it without hesitation. This speaks to Portis’ humility and ultimately why he has unquestionably cemented himself as a fan favorite in Milwaukee lore forever.

Bobby Portis has always embraced a team-first approach with Milwaukee Bucks

Fans will remember a similar approach from Portis last season throughout Milwaukee’s title run, where the big man’s role varied from series to series. After not playing in the final three games of a hard-fought second round series versus the Brooklyn Nets, Portis could have been crushed, but he did not, knowing there was still work to be done. Moments after the final buzzer sounded in a shocked Barclays Center, Giannis Antetokounmpo approached Portis and told him to stay ready because the Bucks were going to need him to finish the job.

Antetokounmpo’s assumption proved true as Portis played a key role throughout the first four games against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, his role expanded when Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury and Portis started in his place for the final two games of the series as the Bucks advanced to the NBA Finals. On the biggest stage, Portis returned to the bench and played some incredible basketball across six games to help the Bucks win their first NBA title since 1971. This team-first mentality was why Portis decided to return to the Bucks in the offseason on another team-friendly deal, despite receiving other offers that may have been more desirable or presented a more significant role.

Portis has embodied professionalism since joining the Bucks, doing what is best for the team at any given moment. This year that included starting in 57 games, the most in his career thus far, and then heading back to the bench despite how well he played. While that may have caused an issue for others, Portis understands that winning remains the ultimate prize, and he will play his role, whatever or wherever that may be on any given day, to reach that primary goal.

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Shoutout to Bobby Portis for everything he brings to the Milwaukee Bucks.