One does not get as good as Giannis Antetokounmpo without working hard, staying late at practice, and establishing a routine that gets you to the highest level. Occasionally, this routine involves a bizarre mix of practical habits and bizarre superstitions. Antetokounmpo recently told ESPN about his pregame routine is in great detail.
It is a relatively simple routine, but the simplistic nature of it does not make it any less bizarre.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s routine involves getting a lot of sleep
The No. 1 priority of Antetokounmpo’s pregame routine is his nap. The forward is a big proponent of sleeping before expending his energy on the court. According to ESPN, he picked this tradition up from his father.
As a teenager in Greece, Antetokounmpo’s dad wanted to ensure his son was ready for 7 p.m. games after leaving school at 2 p.m. This meant a nap was vital. Antetokounmpo may not have liked it at first, but now he says he cannot play a game without a nap. He claims that naps recharge him — and there is some science to back this up.
The Huffington Post highlighted the medical benefits of healthy sleeping patterns. An NBA player has a hard time maintaining a sleeping schedule due to travel schedules and constant shifts in time zones. According to Dr. Margot Putukian, however, a nap can help offset this.
“Sleep deprivation has been linked to pain and complaints of muscle and joint pain,” Putukian told the Huffington Post. “We know how helpful restorative sleep is … We always say young people need sleep, especially as they’re growing. Without a doubt, there is a link to performance.”
With this in mind, Antetokounmpo isn’t just following his dad’s orders from a decade ago, but he’s also ensuring that he stays in tip-top shape for tipoffs.
Antetokounmpo’s stretches and warm-ups
After his nap, Antetokounmpo gets some tissue work done by his physical therapist. Before departing, however, he changes. After all, the walk to the locker room looks more like a runway these days. Antetokounmpo doesn’t put as much time into this part as others, however.
“I just want to win,” Antetokounmpo said. “All that other stuff takes away from the game, and you just spend extra energy on looking good for five seconds. I don’t care about that. I just want to look good on the court. Get the win and go back home and lay on my couch and just watch game film. That’s it.”
Once at the arena, he does 30 minutes of stretches. After this, he goes to Bucks’ assistant Ben Sullivan to do some shooting practice. This is how he prepares for every game, and it may explain why the Bucks are among the most consistent teams in the NBA
Upon hearing the way Antetokounmpo describes some other traditions, however, one might think he’s crazy.
Antetokounmpo’s love of hot sauce and jogging
According to ESPN, Antetokounmpo talked about the tradition of putting hot sauce on his knees before every game. After some reflecting, however, this does not mean the reigning MVP got his superpowers thanks to Sriracha or Tabasco but a different type of sauce that makes more sense: Icy Hot.
Icy hot helps muscles and joints, so Antetokounmpo’s initial gaffe has less to do with eccentricities and more to do with English as his second language.
When it’s time for the game, however, Antetokounmpo demonstrates his strangest tradition yet. While the players get ready for the tip-off, he must jog over to the first row of fans behind the basket and pound his chest with each hand. Then, he’s ready.
From the practical to the superstitious, whatever Antetokounmpo is doing must be working. The forward was the MVP last year and may be better this year.