Giannis Antetokounmpo was a notable absentee on Monday night when the Milwaukee Bucks took on the Sacramento Kings. The reigning Most Valuable Player winner missed his team’s 123-111 victory in order to attend to the birth of his first child.
At this point, Antetokounmpo knows very little about fatherhood, but the Bucks superstar hopes to draw inspiration from this milestone to make himself an even better basketball player. According to the 25-year-old first-time dad, he wishes to emulate Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors and the latter’s memorable new dad moment during last season’s playoffs.
“Look at Fred VanVleet,” Antetokounmpo said, via Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “He started making all those shots when he had his kid. Maybe that happens to me also. Who knows?”
Giannis was a firsthand witness to VanVleet’s amazing turnaround last season, when the Bucks faced off against the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. VanVleet was abysmal in the first three games of the series and for basically the entire playoffs prior, but the moment his child was born, it was as if he became a man possessed.
The 6-foot-1 point guard would make a huge impact in the remaining three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, as he helped the Raptors overcome a formidable challenge from Giannis and company to beat the Bucks in six games. VanVleet then played a key role in the Raptors beating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Antetokounmpo is not one to forget easily, and as it turns out, VanVleet’s heroics are something that made a mark on Giannis. Now that he’s playing for something — or someone — the Bucks superstar hopes to even further elevate his level of play as he tries to lead his squad to a title. The rest of the league better take notice.