MILWAUKEE — About 20,000 Milwaukee Bucks fans packed the courtyard outside Fiserv Forum — nicknamed the “Deer District” — to celebrate Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s MVP award. Some fans wore Antetokounmpo jerseys. Others showed up Sunday with homemade posters and intricate paintings of Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks had set up a temporary stage where a DJ played. The actual ceremony — during which Antetokounmpo briefly addressed the crowd and held up the trophy — lasted just 15 minutes, but fans showed up to stake out the perfect selfie spot hours before the Bucks star arrived.
When Antetokounmpo took the stage around 3:15 p.m. CT, he grabbed a microphone with the Bucks’ moniker on it and asked the crowd for three favors. After asking fans in attendance to show up for every game next season and to pose for a crowded selfie, Antetokounmpo urged them not to call him the Most Valuable Player anymore.
“After this day, please don’t call me the MVP until I win it again next year,” he said. The crowd roared with delight.
On Saturday, Antetokounmpo told ESPN that he had reached only 60 percent of his basketball potential. He expanded on that Sunday, saying, “I’ve got a lot of things that I can improve on. In my head, when I say that I am only 60 percent, it makes me want to improve. Obviously, I can add a jump shot to my game.” Then Antetokounmpo yelled out to the crowd asking for more suggestions on improvements he could make.
“Free throws,” one man screamed.
“Three-pointers,” a woman yelled.
“We love you,” another man shouted.
The “Greek Freak” laughed and nodded through all the responses.
Antetokounmpo, 24, had more to say about it to reporters afterward.
“I get mad when my girlfriend says, ‘You know you’re really good, you’re one of the best,'” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m like, ‘No, I’m not,’ because whenever that happens I relax. I am a person where whatever I do, I do it 100 percent. If I am lazy, I am lazy 100 percent. I don’t want to relax a bit because I’m not done yet. I want to be for multiple years the best player in the league.”
Antetokounmpo concluded his speech to fans by saying, “Let’s go win the big trophy now,” in reference to the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.
After a final energetic back-and-forth with the crowd, Antetokounmpo walked down the steps of the stage and watched a short video that featured short clips of former Bucks star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, teammates Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton, Brewers player Christian Yelich, Antetokounmpo’s brothers, mother and others congratulating him on his award.
After the ceremony, Antetokounmpo held a brief and wide-ranging news conference in which he talked about his summer travels, the Bucks’ offseason roster moves and his signature shoe.
Antetokounmpo said he was pleased with how the Bucks’ roster had taken shape. He would have “loved” to have seen Malcolm Brogdon — who signed a three-year, $85 million deal with the Indiana Pacers — return to the Bucks. He conceded that when it comes to roster construction, numbers aren’t his specialty, and he understood why it was best that Brogdon moved on.
“Obviously, we didn’t have enough to bring him back,” Antetokounmpo said of Brogdon. “That’s my brother. I wish him nothing but the best going forward. I know he is going to kill it in Indiana — hopefully not against us. I think we have guys that will step up and take that role.”
This summer has been a whirlwind, Antetokounmpo said. Just in the past month, he has been in Greece, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Las Vegas.
Antetokounmpo said he isn’t sure how the busy offseason, combined with the deepest postseason run he has been a part of, will affect his performance next season.
“I might come back and be tired for the first month,” Antetokounmpo said. “I really don’t know how it is going to go for me, but I am going to learn from it. Hopefully next year when we go — if we go — all the way, I got to know how to react.”
Then, Antetokounmpo picked up the MVP trophy, walked through the hallways of Fiserv Forum and back outside, where he proceeded to block children’s layups with a smile on his face.