The Bucks All-Star duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton have finally managed to make that next step this season and bring their team into the NBA Finals, facing the Phoenix Suns. It has been a turbulent, up-and-down Playoff run in which Milwaukee faced many adversities, but now they have the chance to finally silence all the doubters.
Giannis and Middleton have established themselves as one of the better duos in the whole NBA. The Greek Freak is a 2x MVP, while Middleton has been a perennial All-Star for a few years now. But long before they were at the top, both Giannis and Kris were starting from the bottom, battling versus each other.
Giannis came into the NBA at just 18 years old, without any significant professional experience behind him, while Middleton, as a 2nd round pick, got shipped to Milwaukee after his rookie season. Do you remember who actually drafted Middleton? That’s right, it was the Pistons. He was a filler in the Jennings – Knight trade. Both Giannis and Khris were not projected to become the players they are today, meaning they would have to fight and give it their all to secure a place in this league.
Conventionally the two forwards ended up guarding each other for most practices, battling it out for more minutes. That led to some friction, as Giannis admitted he hated Middleton back then.
“You cannot imagine how hard we went at each other at practice. Like, I went home, and when my family came, I was showing them the scratches I had on my arms. He used to come down and I’d grab him hard. And he’d push me off. I used to hate him. You know: ‘F*CK this motherf*cker. I’m going to take his f*cking minutes.’ I hated playing against him and practicing against him because he was playing hard. And I was playing hard. And we’d always clash at each other.”Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Athletic
Kris would confirm the story and tell how he viewed those battles. For Middleton, it was all about getting better.
“We hated each other on the court because we were fighting for minutes. Me and him were kind of in the same position. It was a battle every day in practice. We were making each other better, but we were really trying to get into that rotation and start playing.”Kris Middleton, The Athletic
Obviously, that rivalry would turn into a great friendship on and off the court we see today. Now Giannis is one of the biggest names in the game, while Middleton has proved to be a capable number no.2 guy on a contending team, something many experts doubted after numerous playoff exits from the Bucks. Now the two have a great chance to finish the job finally and complete one of the better rags to riches stories in the NBA.
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