After the Milwaukee Bucks signed-and-traded Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers last offseason, Giannis Antetokounmpo knew he had to get involved.
Antetokounmpo has admitted that he’s not a natural recruiter.
“I don’t like doing that stuff,” Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t get an extra paycheck for doing (GM) Jon (Horst)’s job or Coach (Mike Budenholzer)’s job or whoever’s job it is. … If you asked me one year ago, two years ago, I’d say, ‘Coach, just take care of it.’ … (But) it comes to a point that I’m like, ‘OK. Malcolm’s about to leave.’ And at the time, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver were the guys I felt like could help us win.”
In a recent interview released on March 4, Antetokounmpo told Eric Nehm of The Athletic how he reached out to Matthews and Korver.
“[Matthews] was working out … and called me right back,” Antetokounmpo said. “I told him, ‘Look. You can defend. You can knock down shots. You’re a great person. You’re a great human being first of all. You can help this team be better. At the end of the day, you haven’t won a championship, right? I haven’t won a championship either. We have to bring a group together that wants that and wants that bad.'”
The call from the reigning MVP helped convince Matthews to sign.
“It meant a lot,” Matthews said. “Not even just as an athlete, but just as anyone who is working, the admiration of your peers is what holds the most weight. Not writers, not blogs, not media and all that kind of stuff. It’s the guys you’re going to compete with and against to have the respect for you that means the world.”
About Korver, Antetokounmpo added, “I called him and we talked. And I’m not going to say he’s weird, but he’s more reserved to himself. So, the first time I called him I was like, ‘Did I f–k this one up?'”
Korver invited Antetokounmpo to work out with him at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the former MVP made another recruitment pitch.
“We start the workout and I’m like, ‘OK. Kyle, look, this is how I can get you open shots,'” Antetokounmpo said. ‘”We can run this. We can do this. I know Al Horford is your best friend. I know you’d love playing with Al Horford in Philly, but look, I can (get you shots). I can find you easier.’ He loved it.”
The signing of Matthews and Korver helped give the Bucks one of the NBA’s deepest rosters to support Antetokounmpo.
Matthews has started 59 games (24.6 minutes per game) and is averaging 7.6 points per game, while shooting 37.1 percent from three-point.
Korver is averaging 6.4 points per game (16.6 minutes per game), while shooting 40.7 percent from three-point.
“I can’t imagine the feeling that we’ll have if we win a championship together,” Antetokounmpo said. “This team is special. The atmosphere is amazing. If we win a championship, it is going to be amazing. It’s going to be a bond that is for life and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Antetokounmpo continued, “I love my teammates. … I’d die for them. That’s who I am and I hope they know that and I think they know that. This is the group that I want to (win a championship) with, and hopefully, we can get it done.”