After Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury during the Eastern Conference Finals series versus the Atlanta Hawks, he feared he would be out for the rest of this season and be out for the next season as well. "I thought I would be out for a year," Antetokounmpo said.
On Tuesday -- after missing the last two games of the series against the Hawks -- Antetokounmpo returned to the court. "It was tough," Antetokounmpo said, describing what he went through over the past week to return to the court.
"Obviously I had to do my best to get back. Listen to my medical staff. I did the right treatment. Took care of my body and supported my teammates, and now I'm back." An MRI revealed that Antetokounmpo avoided a structural damage to his knee.
"I couldn't walk, and my knee was like double the size," Antetokounmpo said. "Usually I never swell up. But you know, I woke up the next day, did whatever it's called, MRI or X-ray -- I don't know what it's called -- and they said I'm good.
And I was like, 'Thank God.' "But at the end of the day, it's like all the medical staff and the strength and conditioning team, they have done a great job throughout the year to keep me healthy, and all the work we've put in, that's why it wasn't as bad, you know, because of all the work I've put in throughout the years, I'm happy.
"I'm not trying to make it about me, and hopefully in Game 2, I'll feel better."
Antetokounmpo played in Game of the NBA Finals
Antetokounmpo scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 118-105 Game 1 loss versus the Phoenix Suns.
"He had a good workout before the game," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "You've got to listen to Giannis first. He felt good. The sports performance group felt good ... he had been checking boxes the last couple days and making progress and so he was cleared, and he wanted to go and everybody was on the same page.
"It's just a credit to him ... the work he puts in, the work the sports performance group puts in. "For him to be back playing in Game 1, it's really impressive what he did." The Suns were ready for Antetokounmpo.
"We planned for him to play," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "Just felt like a guy like Giannis, who all the stories report about how hard he works on his body, we just figured a guy that works that hard is going to find a way to get back on the floor, especially in the Finals. "This is the time of the year where you sacrifice everything, and that's what we expected."