MILWAUKEE (AP) — When Adrian Griffin tried to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a second straight victory to start the season Sunday night, he knew he would have an eye on one opposing player in particular.
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Griffin’s son, AJ, is a second-year guard on the Atlanta Hawks who is averaging 4.0 points through the team’s first two games. The elder Griffin, who will be facing his 20-year-old son for the first time as a head coach, acted every bit the beaming parent before the matchup.
“I’m just like any other parent. Just proud of their kid,” Griffin said. “We want to win the game, but it is special to see him in an NBA jersey. I’m still in awe. It’s still kind of new and fresh. These are special moments that will last for a lifetime.”
The younger Griffin, the No. 16 pick out of Duke by Atlanta in the 2022 draft, showed a deep interest in basketball at a very young age.
“Just passionate about it. I just remember taking him to the games and I’d look up in the stands. He was 7 or 8 years old but he was watching,” Adrian Griffin said. “Some of his friends would be playing around and he’d just be watching the ball. He was just engulfed with the game of basketball.”
Adrian Griffin took the Bucks’ coaching reins from Mike Budenholzer, who led Milwaukee to the 2021 NBA title, the franchise’s first in 50 years and only second ever. But the Bucks parted ways with Budenholzer after last season’s shocking first-round playoff series loss to the Miami Heat, when Milwaukee was the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
Griffin was an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors last season, his son’s rookie campaign, when the Hawks took two of three games in the season series.
“He talks a lot of trash,” Griffin said. “They beat us last year, so he has the upper hand, and he reminds me every day. I told him I have a little bit more help this year, so we’ll see.”