From Humble Beginnings, Giannis Antetokounmpo Reigns Atop NBA World
Some superstars choose to team up and form a super-team.
Not Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Milwaukee Bucks star chose to do it the hard way and after one playoff heartbreak after another, Antetokounmpo is finally atop the basketball world. The Greek Freak is an NBA champion.
Doing things the hard way is the path less traveled by but a path that Antetokounmpo has always chosen to take – whether it be by choice or by circumstance. Growing up in a household of five brother to parents constantly trying to pull strings together to provide for their children, Antetokounmpo was on the streets from a young age trying to make a couple bucks to feed his family. He didn’t start playing basketball until he was 12, but when he did, things slowly began to click.
“I started playing basketball just to help my family,” Said Antetokounmpo with a smile during his post Game 6 press conference. “Tried to get them out of the struggle, the challenges we were facing when we were kids. But I never thought I’m going to be 26 years old, with my team playing in the NBA Finals. Just playing — like, I was just happy just being, like not even winning, just being a part of this, of this journey.
“But I never thought I would be sitting here with this right here and this right here. We’ve come a long way.”
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 22, 2021
He has truly come a long way and over the last few years, he has become one of the game’s most unique and humble superstars. Already a two-time league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Antetokounmpo continued to make history with his first championship victory.
“This is for my mom,” the emotional Antetokounmpo explained as he held onto his two trophies – the Finals MVP and of course the Larry O’Brien trophy. “She works extremely hard every day for me to be in this position, and she never pressured me to do other things. This is for my dad. He’s watching from above, and he can see it. This is for my significant other. Every day, she helps me be a better person. She lets me do what I’m supposed to do. She takes care of my son. And for my brothers.
“I can be stubborn sometimes. I can disconnect myself from the world because I want this so bad. And I was able to get it, that’s why I was tearing up. But, like, people helped me be in this position. I didn’t do this by myself. Every freaking day people helped me. I want to thank everyone.”
Tuesday night was one for the record books.
After falling down 2-0 to start the NBA Finals, the Bucks stormed back to take a crucial 3-2 series lead. Game 6 was Antetokounmpo’s crowning moment heard around the world. The Greek Freak finished the night with 50 points, 14 rebounds, and hitting a remarkable 17 of his 19 free throws.
“People told me I cannot make free throws,” Antetokounmpo said with a huge smile. “I made my free throws tonight and I’m a freaking champion.
“I made them when I’m supposed to make them.”
Don’t be fooled by Antetokounmpo’s smile.
This was by no means an easy journey and it was one that started years ago. Antetokounmpo has undergone excruciating amounts of pressure over the years after his team first blew a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors and then falling on their faces inside the bubble against the Miami Heat.
Giannis was feeling emotional and appreciative of those who helped him along his journey to becoming an NBA Champion. pic.twitter.com/phbp2mBT5l
— NBA (@NBA) July 22, 2021
His lack of shooting ability has been criticized time and time again. His head coach has been in the hot seat for what feels like years now. His supporting cast of players was constantly disrespected. At long last, the Bucks have proved all of their doubters wrong.
Giannis has shut everyone up.
“I’ve done it all. Tonight, that’s what I had to do,” Said Antetokounmpo. “I had to do a little bit of everything. I had to defend, I had to rebound, I had to block. Did a little bit of everything. This is an addictive feeling. I love playing in the playoffs. I love playing in the Finals.
“This is the moments I want to chase. I want the team to build off this, and hopefully we can do it again.”
Like many all-time greats before him, Antetokounmpo has made countless sacrifices to reach this moment. But with that, it is important to understand how different he and his story is. He has a genuine smile, a non-stop motor, a back-story unlike any other, and a love for the game of basketball, his family, and his teammates. So when it came time for him to make a decision on his future, his decision was an easy one.
“I just couldn’t leave,” Antetokounmpo said. “There was a job that had to be finished. Coming back, I was like, ‘This is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us.’ … Obviously I wanted to get the job done. But that’s my stubborn side. It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It’s easy. … I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship.
“But this is the hard way to do it and this is the way to do it, and we did it. We f—ing did it.”
Today, Antetokounmpo is atop the NBA world. Today, Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA champion.