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Bucks' Giannis on Missing Time with COVID-19: 'Selfishly, I Think I Needed the Break'

Erin WalshDecember 26, 2021

AP Photo/Jon Durr

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month while speaking with reporters following Saturday's 117-113 win over the Boston Celtics.

And while he missed playing, the reigning NBA Finals MVP acknowledged he may have needed the time off.

"I'm not going to lie: I enjoyed it," Antetokounmpo said, per ESPN's Jamal Collier. "Selfishly, I think I needed the break. But at the end of the day, when you turn on the TV and see your teammates ... guys out there fighting to try and win a game, you're like, 'Man, you want to be out there.'"

The two-time MVP had been in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols since Dec. 14 and didn't return until Saturday.

Antetokounmpo missed five games while in health and safety protocols. The Bucks went 3-2 in his absence. 

Though he missed more than a week of action, he noted that he did not lose his sense of taste or smell while he was sidelined. 

"I got too big of a nose. I can smell everything," he joked.

Antetokounmpo was one of many players to be placed in health and safety protocols over the last month. Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal are among the stars who have entered protocols recently. 

The 27-year-old got off to a slow start against the Celtics on Saturday, finishing the first half with just seven points as the Bucks went to the locker room down 62-47. However, he came alive and took over the second half, finishing the game with 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to lead Milwaukee back from a 19-point deficit.

It's been more of the same for Antetokounmpo this season. Entering Saturday, he ranked fourth in the league in scoring (27.0 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (11.6 rebounds per game).

Thanks to Antetokounmpo's efforts, the Bucks are third in the Eastern Conference with a 22-13 record as they seek their second straight Finals appearance.  

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