Although pushed aside with ample opportunities to quit, Elijah Millsap is still pursuing his first opportunity in the NBA. After stints overseas and multiple seasons in the D-League, the 27-year-old recently signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and is looking to make the team’s final roster.
Last season, Millsap played for Maccabi Ashdod of Ashdod, Israel before returning to the States and signing with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the Developmental League. The forward recently gave some time to Dime to speak on his latest chance in the NBA, past experiences and his relationship with Atlanta Hawks star and, more importantly, his older brother Paul Millsap.
Dime: What does it mean to you get another opportunity in the NBA?
Elijah Millsap: Every time you get that opportunity, it’s a blessing. I wasn’t expecting to be in this position. I am grateful to the Bucks, giving me this chance to go out there and make the team.
Dime: The Bucks currently feature multiple forwards on its roster. How do you separate yourself and prove you deserve to make this squad?
EM: I’m just going to go out there and do what I do. I’ve been a professional for years and I have been in training camp with the Thunder and Lakers, where I just got caught up in a numbers game. I just have to go out there, play extremely well to the point where the coaching staff will like me and then sign me.
Dime: While you do have this opportunity, it is not guaranteed. If it doesn’t work out, what’s your backup plan?
EM: I haven’t thought that far yet. That’s a gray area in my life right now – do I go and make money (by playing overseas) or allow myself one more shot and focus on the NBA? Right now, I’m just focused on the task at hand – training camp.
Dime: You have spent time playing both overseas and in the D-League; what are the differences between the style of play?
EM: The D-League is NBA regulation and more like the NBA than overseas. Overseas is basically more like a college atmosphere and college regulation. Overseas is physical and they pack the paint, so I wasn’t able to stick to the paint there but that did help me become more of an all-around basketball player.
Dime: How has the D-League helped your game?
EM: It allowed me somewhere to play (laughs). It allowed me to stay stateside where my parents and family can watch me. You have to be in the right attitude; you have to want to get better every day. It can help you a lot.
Dime: How has your agency, Hazan Sports Management helped you through this process?
EM: They put their foot to the pedal and worked extremely hard. I’m grateful to them, I’m grateful to the Milwaukee Bucks and I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.
Dime: Who are some people in your life who you look up to?
EM: Not everyone has been through what I’ve been through – not getting drafted, going overseas, all of that. I look up to people who have been in my position. I also look up to my brother [Atlanta Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap] because of how hard he has worked.
Dime: Speaking of your older brother, what is your relationship with him?
EM: My brother has always been in my corner. It doesn’t matter to me if we aren’t playing together or if I’m overseas, he’ll watch on his laptop. What he does is great and I appreciate that.
Will Elijah catch on with the Bucks next season?
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