Back when Matthews and Lopez were teammates on the Portland Trail Blazers, they started beating each other up in faux wrestling matches before rushing out onto the floor. They brought the routine to Milwaukee this season, and it has exploded in locker room popularity. “It’s a vibe of brotherhood,” Thanasis said. “We’re all together having fun.”
In many NBA arenas, the tunnel is the site of pregame huddles and chants, a final moment of privacy before stepping onto the court. The San Antonio Spurs meet outside of their locker room in the AT&T Center hallway for a quick huddle before trotting off to the court for business. The Chicago Bulls once juiced up their pregame routine by including mascot Benny The Bull in their team huddle. And in Milwaukee, they throw punches. “Honestly, it’s just kind of evolved with Giannis getting in on that and guys getting in on that,” Matthews said. “It just kind of gets you loose before you get ready to go to battle.”