Following the Milwaukee Bucks’ emotional 113-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Giannis Antetokounmpo left a poignant message to his late father. In the aftermath of the Bucks forward setting a new single game career-high for points, Bucks beat reporter Matt Velazquez found Antetokounmpo had scribbled a message onto the game ball for his father, who died on Sept. 30.
Here’s a look at the ball in Giannis’ locker. pic.twitter.com/mUUfxOoF4F
— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) October 22, 2017
The Bucks needed each and every one of Antetokounmpo’s 44 points, four assists and eight rebounds to prevail over the Blazers. Trailing 109-110 with 18 ticks left, Antetokounmpo deflected a CJ McCollum’s dribble from behind into John Henson’s hands, reeled in Henson’s bounce pass at midcourt, then used only one dribble to beat everyone down the floor and flush it home to put Milwaukee up by one.
Creates a turnover, leaks out, gets rewarded in transition. It’s early, but Giannis looks like he accepted the #KobeChallenge 2 earn Kia MVP pic.twitter.com/OPcvtABs3w — DJ Dunson (@CerebralSportex) October 22, 2017
On the ensuing Blazers possession, Antetokounmpo would seal the win for good by denying 7-foot center Jusuf Nurkic’s attempt at the rim.
— DJ Dunson (@CerebralSportex) October 22, 2017
Whether Antetokounmpo is channeling his grief into these amazing performances or he’s using basketball to block it out, it’s clear his father’s memory will fuel him this season. On the floor, everything is clicking for Antetokounmpo in his fifth NBA season. Heading into Sunday’s action, he is the NBA’s scoring leader while shooting 67 percent from the field, in addition to pacing his Bucks in assists, rebounds and steals.