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An interview with NBA Champion Elijah Bryant

Former BYU Hoopster Elijah Bryant, now of the Milwaukee Bucks, answered a few questions about what it was like to win an NBA Championship, shares his advice for the current BYU squad, and more.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Former BYU Basketball Guard Elijah Bryant signed with the Milwaukee Bucks on May 13, 2021, right before their historic NBA Championship run. He was kind enough to chat with me on Twitter and answer a few questions. Be sure to check out Elijah’s YouTube Channel, EB&J, and subscribe, for behind-the-scenes looks at his life in the NBA. EB also says to look out for more One Cent Club items, dropping soon.

Mary: How did playing at BYU help prepare you for all that’s happened in your professional basketball career so far?

EB: Playing at BYU has prepared me in many ways to be ready for what has happened in my professional career. I think BYU taught me how to stay grounded in what’s most important in life. I think you will have ups and downs in this life, not just basketball, so being able to stay grounded with The Church has helped me a lot. The Church was a big thing for me at BYU because I always knew I could go there and get that joy. Everyone was going to church, so I think that culture helped me a lot.

Mary: Speaking of BYU, do you keep in touch with any former teammates or anyone on BYU’s team now? Do you have a message for BYU Hoops heading into this season?

EB: Yes, I still talk to a few teammates here and there just to see how their careers are going. Yes, I talk to a few players on the team like Caleb, Alex, Tejon. They are in for a big year! I think for BYU Hoops, the message is to focus on getting better everyday, compete everyday, and block out the noise. Understand that there are only a few people in that game every morning and night with you guys. Other than those people in that circle, opinions outside don’t matter. There will be good times but there will be bad. The bad times will show what you were doing during the off-season. Stay humble, as well. Be consistent over time!!

Mary: What role has your faith played in your professional basketball career so far?

EB: I think my faith has played a big role in my basketball career thus far. It has allowed me to stay grounded like I eluded to earlier. This time here on Earth is very short compared to our time in Heaven. Short answer, it has given me an eternal perspective. If I have a bad game, I have to come home and be the best husband I can be or the best dad I can be, because in the big picture, that matters way more than basketball. Eternal perspective is something I really value thus far in my professional career.

Mary: Can you share a favorite memory/moment from the NBA Finals?

EB: My favorite moment from the NBA finals was in Game 6 where the game was almost over and we were up and about to win. I was overcome with this feeling of emotion, like, about to cry, then I had to check myself, like, wait why are you crying? I don’t think people understand how much blood, sweat, and tears have gone into just getting to the NBA, and to be able to win a Championship after being in the NBA for only three months. People might say, “Oh well you didn’t play,” but those same people weren’t with me when I was 5’7’’ in the ninth grade and everyone told me that I wouldn’t be able to play Division I basketball. Those same people weren’t with me when my wife and I left BYU early to go play in Eilat, Israel, which we had no idea where and what we were getting into. This emotion was for the Lord for guiding me throughout my whole process. I felt so much gratitude and overwhelming emotion that it just came out. I’ll always remember that time!

Mary: Being part of the Bucks, how would you describe the mentality that contributed to them winning the championship, especially after being down 0-2 to start the series?

EB: It’s funny you ask this question because after we won game 5 in PHX, during my meditation session in the morning, I was asking myself the same question. Why the BUCKS? How did we do it against all odds? The first thing that popped in my mind was HUMILITY. The whole culture is built on humility from top down. From the owners, all the way down to the last guy. I mean, the owners were at dinner having a long conversation with me and asking questions about myself — not basketball, but myself. To find people who care about you as a person in the basketball world is super cool. Giannis, Jrue, and Khris all being super humble allows everyone else to star in their roles because they are comfortable. So to answer that question, why the BUCKS? My answer is HUMILITY.