It was the final seconds of the fourth quarter in a Sunday night game in early March between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks when Giannis Antetokounmpo drove to the baseline and heaved the ball at the backboard.
The Bucks were already up six points and two possessions, rendering another basket redundant — but Antetokounmpo wasn’t trying to score. Clocking 23 points, 13 assists, and 9 rebounds in his 36 minutes on the floor, the dominant 6’11 point-forward and 2023 MVP candidate was just one board shy of nabbing his fourth triple-double of the season, and he knew it. Although the game was for all intents and purposes finished, he couldn’t resist clinching another milestone: he tossed up the rock, watched it bounce off the glass, and recovered his own miss just as the buzzer sounded. Game over. The Greek Freak nabbed the triple double.
Antetokounmpo does not exactly need to pad his stats. Since being drafted 15th by the Bucks in 2013, the Athens-born Greek-Nigerian superstar has built a career of monumental proportions, racking up one accolade after another on his way to becoming one of the preeminent figures in the league. Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA MVP, All Star MVP, Finals MVP, All-NBA MVP: he’s won just about every award there is to win in the sport of basketball, including, in 2021, his first NBA Championship. “It’s gotten to the point where I don’t care as much about the individual accolades,” he explains after a win over the Toronto Raptors at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee several weeks earlier, a match he missed nursing a nagging knee injury. “I want to win another championship. I want to have that feeling again of being the last team standing.”
But working his hardest on every possession — and seizing yet another triple-double when the opportunity presents itself — is simply in his nature as an athlete. This is not a player who rests on his laurels. He’s always going to fight for that tenth rebound. “I try to maximize my life as much as I can, and live every moment to the fullest,” he admits. “That’s me. Not everybody is like that.”
It’s a few hours after the Bucks-Raptors game, and the Fiserv Forum has mostly cleared out, leaving Antetokounmpo some space to take it easy. A homegrown star who brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to Milwaukee for the first time since 1971, he’d be mobbed by throngs of fans if he dared to wander the Forum’s hallways on a given night, but on this quiet Tuesday evening nobody seems to realize that the man is still here. He stretches out in a seat in the lounge on the mezzanine level, ready to talk basketball — and another subject of primary interest to the charismatic phenomenon, luxury watches.
Antetokounmpo has been an ambassador with Breitling since early 2022, shortly after his NBA championship victory and breakout second MVP season. Heavily featured in campaigns for both the popular Navitimer and Chronomat timepieces, he’s quickly emergedshed, he couldn’t resist clinching another milestone: he tossed up the rock, watched it bounce off the as one of the premier celebrity spokesmen for a Swiss luxury watchmaker with no shortage of them, joining the ranks of Brad Pitt, Adam Driver, Charlize Theron, and more. (Speaking of his fellow ambassadors, Giannis professes that he would “love” to meet up with Pitt, should Breitling manage to swing something.) On this occasion, Antetokounmpo is joined by Breitling USA President Thierry Prissert, who, in common with most of Milwaukee, is an ardent Giannis fan.
An athlete turned fashion icon who is rarely seen these days without a striking timepiece on his wrist, Antetokounmpo was introduced to the world of watches by his older brother, Francis. As Nigerian refugees in Greece, the Antetokounmpo family had struggled to put food on the table, and even once Giannis was drafted in the NBA and started earning millions, it was difficult for him to shake that scarcity mindset. (To wit: In a league where players rarely wear a pair of shoes a second time, Giannis notoriously wore the same pair of sneakers all throughout his rookie season.) When Francis gifted Giannis his very first watch (“It was… a brand I cannot name,” he laughs), he was initially skeptical. But Francis had a way of justifying the indulgence that even Giannis could accept.
“He told me to think of it as an investment,” Giannis recalls. “You can wear it, and it’s great, but it’s also a great investment.” The result was instant addiction. “I was like, Hmmm. After that I went to go look at some more watches. Now I have probably 80 of them. I fell in love, and now I’m obsessed.”
As you might expect, Antetokounmpo has plenty of Breitling watches in his collection. Between the Navitimer and the Chronmat, however — both of which he promotes in campaigns — it’s a toss-up which he ultimately prefers. “I definitely switch between them,” he says, with a nod and a smile to Prissert. “But to be honest, I love the Navitimer a lot. It was the first watch I partnered with Breitling on, the first watch they gave me. I wore it many times. I wore it in the All Star game.” But while it has a special place in his heart, the watch itself is no longer present in his collection. “One of my teammates, Sandro Mamukelashvili, stole it from me,” he laughs. “He said he liked it, and I said it was Breitling, and he was like, ‘That means you can get another one for free!’ He never gave it back.”