"The Greek Freak" has instilled new life into a Milwaukee Bucks franchise that has had little to cheer about over the last three decades.
It's been quite some time since the Bucks have been title contenders; they haven't won a playoff series since 2001, which gives them the longest active series victory drought in the NBA.
A Greek native with Nigerian ancestry, Antetokounmpo offers the NBA a superstar to sell to the globe, and it's paid off big time for the league and the Bucks. Milwaukee was No. 6 in league merchandise sales from October to December 2017, which put them ahead of big-market NBA cornerstones like the Celtics, Spurs, and Bulls.
How do you Pronounce his Name?
His last name is pronounced "ah-deh-toh-KOON-boh," but because there are different ways of pronouncing it in Nigeria and Greece, he sometimes changes the pronunciation. Most people call him "Giannis" or "Greek Freak," and it's not hard to see why.
He's one of the NBA's Most Popular Players
Antetokounmpo's No. 34 jersey was the fourth best-selling jersey this past holiday season, according to NBA.com. The only players whose jerseys performed better were Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. Antetokounmpo also finished second behind LeBron in All-Star fan voting, with about 2.5 million votes. He also has a huge Greek following from around the world. His No. 34 jersey was the fourth best-selling jersey this past holiday season, according to NBA.com. The only players whose jerseys performed better were Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.
Giannis can Play any of the Five Positions in Basketball
Antetokounmpo is only one of a few guys in NBA history could play any of the five positions—and even fewer could play all five at a high level. LeBron James and Magic Johnson are really the only two major prior examples.
He's the First International Player With a Signature Nike Shoe Deal
In November, Antetokounmpo announced that he and Nike had reached an agreement on a "long-term partnership." This came after several companies attempted to court one of the sneaker game's most prominent free agents; Adidas bought him a truck full of kicks—including some Yeezys—to try to win his services. And Chinese shoe giant Li Ning was believed to have made a push as well.
Subsequent media reports stated that the Nike deal included a signature shoe the Zoom Freak shoe, which would make him the 22nd player ever to get a signature shoe with Nike and the first player born outside of the United States to do so.
Giannis is in Contract Through 2021
Antetokounmpo won't be going anywhere anytime soon. In 2016, Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension to keep him in Milwaukee through 2021. The extension is backloaded and pays him about $22.5 million this year, with salaries rising to $27.5 million in 2021. Given how well Antetokounmpo has played over the last two seasons, it's looking like that contract is making him a $100 million deal.
He Knew Nothing About the Milwaukee bucks
The first time Antetokounmpo ever set foot in the U.S. was for the NBA Draft. And when he found out the Bucks selected him, he went in with a clean slate — he knew nothing about the city literally. Not the size, location, weather, or the team he was about to play for. Zero.
When he came to America, he also didn't know how to drive or use a bank account. Adapting took a while and a lot of learning, but it's safe to say he's done a pretty job here so far.
The Day Giannis Antetokounmpo Couldn't Afford a Cab. So he Ran.
Growing up in poverty, Giannis Antetokounmpo knew if he ever made it big time, he needed to give back to his parents because, without them, he wouldn't have to make it to where he is today.
When Giannis was a rookie, he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated that he "took a cab to Western Union to send money home. After sending all the money he could to Greece (his home country), he realised he didn't have enough left for cab fare. It was game day, so he started running."
Well, luckily for Giannis, he only ran a mile until a couple recognised him and drove him to the arena.
His Brothers Play Basketball too
Antetokounmpo is very close with his family: His mother and his younger brothers all live with him, and he admittedly eschews many of the excesses of professional athlete life to spend time with them. He's the third of five brothers, many of whom are also high-achieving basketball players. Antetokounmpo's brother Thanasis plays as a forward for the Bucks also however he will be sitting out for game 6 of the NBA Final.
Another brother, Kosta, has signed a two year deal with French team ASVEL after spending the past two seasons with the Lakers. Kosta was previously linked to Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens, two top-flight bastketball clubs.
The Antetokounmpo family is genetically gifted like few other families in history have been—Giannis might not be the only Antetokounmpo to have a long NBA career.
Giannis is Humble as can be.
"I try to focus in the moment, in the present, that's humility."
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 17, 2021
— NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2021
The Malwaukee Bucks are vying for their first NBA title since 1974. Can the Bucks clinch the NBA Championship with a win at home against the Suns on Tuesday night?
Giannis, you've got this. We, your fans are ready!
Update: On July 20, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns to win the 2021 NBA Championship. Giannis Antetokounmpo became the sixth player in NBA Finals history to score 50 points and unanimously won the 2021 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.