Pau Gasol recalls a formative playoff moment for Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo
In his first postseason back in 2015, a young Antetokounmpo made his mistakes. In a piece by Eric Nehm of The Athletic, current Bucks teammate Pau Gasol recalled one such incident.
Gasol was playing for the opposing Chicago Bulls at the time. Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., known for playing aggressive and physical basketball, smacked then-Buck Michael Carter-Williams in the face in Game 6 and was not called for a foul. In the second quarter, he also knocked Antetokounmpo to the ground. At that point, The Greek Freak let his immaturity take over and tried to take matters into his own hands. He shoved Dunleavy into the stands on a 3-point attempt, which went in.
“Mike was kind of sneaky that way, he would try to get under your skin at times,” Pau Gasol said. “I think he was able to do that with Carter-Williams and Giannis. It was just frustration on Giannis’s part. He got upset by a play before on a rebound.”
The officials ejected Antetokounmpo for the cheap shot and he served a one-game suspension to begin the following season. Looking back on it now, Antetokounmpo sees it clearly.
“I was just dumb,” Antetokounmpo shared. “It was my first playoff series. Being from Greece, I think I took things literally sometimes. You know when they’re like, ‘You gotta hit them first.’”
Giannis Antetokounmpo has come a long way since those days. While the 24-year-old still plays with intensity, he is much more controlled and mature. This has allowed him to take his game to a whole new level.
In the regular season, Giannis averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists — all career highs. He is off to a hot start to the postseason as well, averaging 26.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in just 29.8 minutes per game.
The three-time All-Star is trying to lead the Bucks to their first championship since 1971. But to get there, they will need to go through the tough Boston Celtics. The two teams are tied at one game apiece in their second round matchup.