Giannis Antetokounmpo did not like Khris Middleton during his first NBA season. In fact, he hated Middleton during the 2013-14 campaign.

Just over a month after drafting Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2013, the Bucks traded their starting point guard Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Knight and Middleton, a throw-in to even up the slight difference in the swap of starting point guards. While Antetokounmpo would eventually be a breakout star, it was Middleton who appeared in the starting lineup in the Bucks’ season opener, not the 18-year-old Antetokounmpo.

As the skinny rookie from Greece tried to fight for more playing time under then-head coach Larry Drew, Antetokounmpo scratched and clawed for minutes in the rotation against Middleton, literally. As Antetokounmpo recounted to The Athletic two years ago, he used to go home after practices and show his parents the scratches on his arms that came from hand-fighting with Middleton to keep the 22-year-old wing from getting open shots in practice.

On Sunday night, when reminded of those fights after watching Middleton, his teammate of eight seasons, rain down clutch bucket possession after possession and score 20 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bucks to a 113-102 Game 3 victory, Antetokounmpo smiled thinking back to the playing time battles in their first season together in Milwaukee.

“It’s an unbelievable journey,” Antetokounmpo said after putting up 33 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s win.

The brief trip down memory lane made Antetokounmpo wistful and it inspired him to tell reporters just how much Middleton means to him now, eight years after they were first introduced to one another.

“It’s crazy we were talking about maybe like, I don’t know, maybe like a few days ago, four days ago, five days in the locker room and we were talking about like, “How long are you going to play for?” Antetokounmpo recounted. “We just had a silly conversation. And he was like — I’m not going to say exactly what he said, but I told him, ‘Hey, the day you retire is going to be the toughest day in my career because like I’ve been with you the whole time.’

“And it’s been an unbelievable journey. It’s great seeing this guy, man, the way we started, the way we are, the way he started and the way that he is right now, just closing games. That’s what we need from Khris. We need him to be aggressive. We need him to be taking over games, make good decisions, and play off him.”

Before Sunday’s Game 3, according to Basketball-Reference, Antetokounmpo and Middleton had shared the floor for 573 games — 517 in the regular season and 56 in the playoffs — as members of the Milwaukee Bucks. And yet, despite that extensive shared history, Antetokounmpo still found himself trying to figure out what exactly Middleton was doing in the middle of the fourth quarter as the game hung in the balance.