The key to the Knicks’ potential Lillard bid is their assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, who is close to the star point guard and is one of his mentors from Oakland. Bryant is a former Jazz assistant who joined Thibodeau’s staff in 2020. “That’s my big brother,’’ Lillard said in 2017 of Bryant. “I remember barely being in the seventh grade, getting ready for an AAU tournament, and Johnnie was in college at Utah, and they would come back and scrimmage us on outside courts with no net.’’
August 11, 2022 | 1:32 pm EDT Update
Chris Paul: For all these years I have just kept my head down and done the work, and I can honestly say that being named to the NBA 75 team, the day we did that huge photoshoot, I’ll never forget it. I met a number of players that I had never met for the first time. Being in the same setting, all of us, at the same time, was the craziest feeling. Standing there and taking a picture with John Stockton and Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson, all of these guys that I have watched since I was a kid. It’s something that will live forever, I’m grateful.
Chris Paul has taken on another passion outside of basketball that holds significant importance to him: spreading the importance of supporting historically black colleges and universities. “For me, it’s always something that is front of mind for me, and it’s something that is real,” Paul says. “When that’s the case, you have people who want to pour into it. It’s not just about a tweet or an instagram post, but it’s about the real time and dollars that can go into these universities and help.”
What is it that sparked this deep appreciation of HBCUs for you? Chris Paul: A lot of time. When you’re a kid and in different places, you don’t understand how things operate. I grew up and was at Winston-Salem State all the time, I had family members, cousins, who played at Winston-Salem State, my AAU basketball practices used to be over there. But at the time, Winston-Salem State was a school, Wake Forest was a school, nobody ever said this is a PWI and this is an HBCU. Nobody ever told me why they were two different schools or what the funding was like, I didn’t understand that until I got older.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has never forgotten how his journey began, shaping the steps he’s taken since – which currently includes the investment in and advocacy for a telehealth company called Antidote Health. “Affordable health care for all, no matter where you are from – race, circumstance, location,” he said of why he got involved with the startup company. “Having access to affordable health care for all. It’s something that growing up we didn’t have, me and my family obviously being an immigrant illegally in Greece we weren’t able to have that.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I could see it in my mom and dad’s eye that they were terrified when I was like ‘oh, my stomach hurt.’ Or, I have a headache or whatever the case may be. Or dad, ‘my hand, my wrist hurt.’ They were terrified. They were like what are we going to do? We have to find a way to treat this ourselves, you know? But just being able to allow all those people that don’t have healthcare, that don’t have access to it, to give it to them, put it in front of them.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I’m fortunate to be able to play in the NBA when I was 18 and now I’m 27. I can go to the doctor. I can send my kid to the doctor. I’m able to have access. But there’s so many millions of people in the U.S. and all over the world, but more in the U.S., that do not have that luxury like us. A re we going to turn a blind eye to that? Or are we going to do something about it? This is me doing something about it. I’m not a health expert but I believe in people. No matter if you’re rich or poor, people are important, and at the end of the day what are we going to do about it? This is me doing something about it.”