As the Lakers, Nets, and Sixers dominate the headlines, Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks remain Champions of the basketball world and are preparing, just like everyone else, to maximize their potential for the upcoming season.
With a 2x MVP on the team and a roster with the taste of victory still fresh in their mouths, it's unnecessary to say that the Bucks are a team to be feared in the East.
Unfortunately, there is still one roadblock that could prove to complicate matters for the franchise: the health of their superstar.
According to Giannis himself, he's still feeling the effects of the knee injury he suffered in last season's Eastern Conference Finals.
“I shouldn’t have played in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. I was in a lot of pain. I’m still hurting. … Yesterday was the first tough practice I had since Game 6. I’m hurting a lot, but I’ll be okay."
He went on to describe what it was like in that moment for him, dealing with the pain while also having to battle some of his personal demons on the basketball court.
“I was hurt in Game 1. I was praying. We lost,” Giannis said. “In Game 2, I scored 40 and we lost. I was s******* my pants, I was scared after scoring 40 and losing. After that, we just wanted to defend our home. But then my teammates reacted, the team reacted, Jrue [Holiday] was all over the place. The key was how to manage my fear, my anxiety. I was talking with a sports psychiatrist every day, he helped me be myself. The free throws were a mental issue and I want to continue like this in the next season. And I want to see if we can repeat this as a team. I want to see if we can do it again, myself, my teammates, the owners, everyone”.
Giannis, 26, has plenty of great things ahead of him. As for next season, in particular, it will be harder than ever before to get past his foes in the East.
The most important thing for Milwaukee, though, is ensuring their guy stays healthy, not just for the short term -- but also for the next few years to come.