Giannis Antetokounmpo Lobbied for a Milwaukee Playoff Legend to Return to the Bucks: ‘He’s a Hell of a Leader Man’

Giannis Antetokoumpo won the NBA Finals MVP Award after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. But as great as he was, the 6-foot-11 franchise centerpiece didn’t lead the Bucks to a title by himself. Antetokounmpo recognized that, and as it turns out, lobbied for a teammate who became a Milwaukee playoff legend to return.

Bringing back Bobby Portis was a priority for the two-time MVP. He talked the big man into returning to Milwaukee for a shot at back-to-back titles.

Bobby Portis’ play and intensity in the 2021 playoffs endeared him to Bucks’ fans, and to Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bobby Portis celebrates during the Milwaukee Bucks 2021 NBA Championship Victory Parade. Giannis Antetokounmpo helped convince Portis to return for another run at a title in 2021-22.
Bobby Portis celebrates during the Milwaukee Bucks 2021 NBA Championship Victory Parade. | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

A more lucrative contract likely awaited Portis elsewhere after his play during the 2020-21 campaign. At least from the outside, it seemed that the former Arkansas Razorback would take his ring and go get paid.

But as he explained in an interview with Stadium’s Shams Charania, Antetokounmpo wasn’t about to let Portis get away:

“The biggest thing for him, you know, is always family first and do the best thing for your family. That’s one thing he’s always tried to instill in his teammates. He’s a hell of a leader, man. He’s always tried to instill that to take care of your family, but he does want me to stick around and be around with him for the long haul.

“So to have a guy like Giannis call me and wanting me to stay and emphasizing it almost every day after the season. I think the first thing he said when we won the championship is that he said to Jon Horst ‘You need to sign Bobby back.’ So for me to hear that, it’s just great.”

Bobby Portis on Giannis Antetokounmpo asking him to stay in Milwaukee after the team won last year’s championship

Antetokounmpo understands how valuable Portis is to the Bucks and what he means to Milwaukee’s fans

Portis was one of the premier sixth men in the league last year. He averaged 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with shooting splits of 52.3/47.1/74.0 in his first season with the Bucks. He was played off the floor at times in the postseason but still averaged 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

And Bobby Buckets made his moments count.

It was the eight-year veteran’s playoff intensity more than anything, though, that endeared him to fans at Fiserv Forum. A block would elicit a primal scream from Portis. An And-1 did the same. Almost any big play would see Portis explode with emotion.

Milwaukee’s fans ate it up, giving the career journeyman chants of “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby” numerous times throughout the postseason.

Portis found a home with the Bucks, and Antetokounmpo went out of his way to make sure he stayed.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wanted to keep the band together for another run at a title, and he knows Portis is a key part of that

As Portis noted, family is the backdrop of everything Antetokoumpo does, both on the court and off. The fact that The Alphabet went out of his way to make Portis feel wanted played a significant role in his return to Milwaukee.

Portis wasn’t the best player, but he was the heart and soul of the Bucks during last year’s championship run. Antetokounmpo was the finals MVP and Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday got the rest of the accolades.

But Portis’ contributions weren’t lost on anyone in the city of Milwaukee, and they clearly weren’t lost on the team’s franchise superstar either.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference

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