Nine years ago today, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted an unknown Greek Nigerian.
The Greek Freak was born in Athens and grew up in Sepolia, west of Athen’s city centre.
He and his brother Thanasis joined a team in the Athenian suburb of Zografou called Filathlitikos in 2011. Giannis’ younger brother Kostas, signed with Chicago Bulls
His family didn’t come from great means. Still, per a 2013 profile on NPR.com, one of his coaches, Spiros Vellianitis, set up a situation to help him develop on the basketball court without financial issues.
Velliniatis also pushed the club to give the Antetokounmpo family a monthly stipend, so the boys wouldn’t have to work. The family moved to an apartment near the club’s gym last year.
Filathlitikos was affiliated with Greece’s third-tier level semi-pro league, the Greek 3rd Division.
To be eligible for travel teams in Europe, Antetokounmpo also needed help with his citizenship. His parents left Nigeria before he was born, so he was without a passport. NBA.com states that the Greek Basketball Federation “move(d) mountains” to make him eligible, eventually earning his Greek citizenship by 2013.
After reaching the top professional club at Filathlitikos in 2012, other European teams started to notice. In Dec. 2012, the Spanish club CAI Zaragoza acquired his playing rights. With the contract starting in 2013-14, he decided to stay in Greece.
Shortly after, the Bucks drafted him.
15th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Giannis Antetokounmpo quickly made a name for himself and helped put Milwaukee on the map.
The 18-year-old would change the team's fortunes and also those of his new city.
Since then, everyone knows who he is.
Two years ago, the Bucks won their first NBA Championship in over 50 years, and Antetokounmpo was the NBA Finals MVP.
He's been the MVP of the NBA twice, a Defensive Player of The Year and is a five-time All-Star.
His career averages are 21.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
This season he is off to a quick start averaging 27.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
There are now people all over the world who are watching the Bucks because of Giannis.
It also means a lot to Milwaukee's Greek community.
Every Greek is interested in what's happening with the Bucks and Giannis.