It’s a rags to riches story unlike anything the NBA has ever seen.
The NBA is full of miracle stories. Many of the rags to riches stories, as special as they are, all remain in America. For Giannis Antetokounmpo, the streets of Athens would serve as the beginning to one of the greatest origin stories ever told. This week Giannis and the Bucks brought home the NBA championship to Milwaukee after defeating the Pheonix Suns in game six of the NBA playoffs. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton perfected their seven-year relationship dismantling Chris Paul and unraveling Devin Booker, to claim ultimate glory.
Game six delivered a spectacle, the score for all intents and purposes was close. The Bucks claimed the win 105 to the Sun’s 98. Giannis exploded with 50 points, 14 rebounds and two assists. While Khris Middleton landed 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. Buck’s fans in the thousands, celebrated as a promise made years ago by Giannis come true. That promise was to build a team worthy of claiming the NBA Championship.
Now that we covered the game, we can delve into the incredible story of a young man who overcame the largest of odds to sit on the NBA thrown.
Giannis grew up selling cheap watches and sunglasses on the streets of Athens to make some sort of a living, to just get by. He took on basketball at the ripe age of fourteen. For anyone who has been to Athens, you’ll know the kids on the streets selling anything from CDs to DVDs are hustling to operate in a poverty-stricken city such as Athens. For those who haven’t been to Athens, the population of Athens is shrouded in a dark cloud of economic fumes. The overarching message many people in Greece received from Giannis, is a message of hope. With the right amount of heart, determination and imagination, you can make something of yourself even if you started at the bottom of Athens’ streets.
Perhaps the most astonishing part of Giannis’ story, was his ability to not only leave the streets of Athens, but to leave Greece entirely and attempt what many would consider impossible. To play in the NBA. For every one player who makes it in the NBA, there’s a long list of those who didn’t. Hundreds if not thousands of talented young men who wanted their shot, got it, and never made it. When Giannis gave basketball a try, it meant another income stream stopping for his family. Selling rip-off copies of luxury sunglasses provided food for the Antetokounmpo family. He never had time for games, training or anything in between.
When Giannis commenced his basketball journey he was considered ‘too raw’ with too much to learn. No one had expected the young Greeek to make it past the shores of Greece. When Giannis picked up some momentum and began to be talked about as an NBA prospect there were still menacing whispers of doubt swirling around his ability. The only footage anyone had was grainy highlight reels lacking any sort of clear picture, of a young Giannis playing semi-professional basketball in empty run-down gyms in Greece.
This is why Giannis’ values brought the Bucks an NBA championship. The Bucks took a chance on Giannis, and for that he promised unflinching loyalty, even when the league’s best teams were circling Giannis like sharks. Giannis wanted to honour the chance the Bucks took on the young man from the streets of Athens, and in doing so he stopped at nothing to bring home the gold. It makes the championship win all the more unbelievable.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a LeBron-like performance, sprinkled with elements of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. If it was one person who believed in the ‘Greak Freak’, it was Kobe Bryant, and now, it’s the whole world.