Giannis on Free-Throw Line Chants: 'Just Got to Embrace It and Have Fun with It'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots a foul shot during the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Milwaukee Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said he isn't bothered by fans counting loudly during his free-throw routine.

When asked about the sensation that has followed him throughout the playoffs, Giannis put a positive spin on it, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

"Of course, 20,000 people yelling, 'One, two, three, four,' you notice that. I think it's something that's going to follow me for the rest of my career. So, I've just got to embrace it and have fun with it. But at the end of the day I'm just focusing on my routine, my technique, my body, and as I said, it's not going to stop, so I just have to learn to live with it."

The act of fans counting during Giannis' free-throw routine began during the first round of the playoffs when the Bucks swept the Miami Heat.

Players are allowed 10 seconds to take their free throws or they can be called for a violation. With officials rarely calling Giannis for a violation despite his lengthy setup, Heat fans decided to lend the referees a hand.

The counting was a hit and continued during a second-round series against the Brooklyn Nets and the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks.

Antetokounmpo heard it during Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night as well:

Kellan Olson @KellanOlson

Here’s the second FT <a href="https://t.co/s67bnvpbyv">pic.twitter.com/s67bnvpbyv</a>

Giannis unexpectedly played Tuesday after missing the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals with a left knee injury.

It was unclear how much Giannis would be able to give the Bucks, but he played well in the 118-105 loss, contributing 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.

Antetokounmpo did struggle at the free-throw line, though, making just seven of his 12 attempts.

Free-throw shooting has never been a strong point of Giannis' game, but he did shoot 72.0 percent or better from the line in five straight seasons from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

His mark dipped to 63.3 percent last season and settled at 68.5 percent this season. He has been especially poor from the charity stripe in this year's playoffs, shooting just 54.1 percent.

Given that Giannis hasn't shot well from the line since the counting started, it stands to reason that it won't go away any time soon.