Antetokounmpo had a clean-up procedure in late June to remove loose cartilage in his left knee. Since that operation, it has been uncertain whether he would be able to represent Greece in the tournament, and team doctors were reportedly working with Milwaukee’s medical staff to reach a final decision.
“Everyone knows my passion and love for my National Team has and never will change,” Antetokounmpo wrote in his tweet. “Since the conclusion of my NBA season I have been pushing my body to the limits to be the player I need to be to help our team achieve the goals we set. But after months of work and multiple meetings with medical staff it is clear that i am not ready to compete in the level that I need to be to participate in the World Cup.”
Antetokounmpo’s decision is a huge setback for a Greek team that can earn an automatic bid to the Olympics by finishing as one of the top two European teams in the World Cup. Greece could still reach the 2024 Paris games through other qualifying tournaments, but Antetokounmpo’s availability for those competitions will depend on his NBA commitments.
The absence of Antetokounmpo will also affect Team USA, notes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. America and Greece will be in the same pool for the first round of the tournament in the Philippines, and while the U.S. is a heavy favorite to advance regardless, facing Greece without Antetokounmpo makes that task much easier.
Antetokounmpo indicated that the status of his knee left him little choice about trying to play. The Bucks will open training camp in about seven weeks, and the start of the regular season is a little more than two months away.
“This was not a choice but my only option in ensuring I get back to the level of basketball I have worked so hard to achieve so far in my career,” he added. “I am extremely disappointed in this outcome but this was a decision made with the medical staff. I’m going to continue to push myself to be ready for the next time my name is called. My personal, and our ultimate team goal is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics games and it will be an honor to represent my National Team next year.”