Giannis Antetokounmpo seriously considered retiring from the NBA shortly after signing a five-year, $228 million contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks through 2020, he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a recent interview.
“Everybody looks at me like I’m crazy,” Antetokounmpo said. “‘You just signed the biggest contract in NBA history and you want to walk away from the game and all that money…?’ Mannnnn, you can take that money and put it in your… Sorry for my language.”
At the time, Antetokounmpo’s extension was the richest contract in NBA history, and Antetokounmpo said he struggled to live up to the expectations that came with the contract. The season before he signed his contract extension, he became the third player in NBA history to win MVP and Defensive Player honors in the same season. But he had also been eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” Antetokounmpo said. “Getting past this … to be the best, you have to play like the best. You have to practice like the best. You have to behave like the best. Which is not easy. In 2020, I was … in point to leave the game.”
Antetokounmpo ultimately decided not to retire and returned to Milwaukee, where he led the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years. He also won Finals MVP in that series.
This season, Antetokounmpo became the first player in NBA history to average over 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists per game on over 55% shooting from the field. The Bucks finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA and will play in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on April 16 against the No. 8 seed.
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