Giannis Antetokounmpo - Biography
Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo is a Greek professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association's Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). Antetokounmpo's nationality, as well as his size, speed, and ball-handling abilities, have earned him the moniker 'Greek Freak.'
Antetokounmpo started his basketball career with the Filathlitikos youth teams in Athens. He started playing for the club's senior squad in 2011 before entering the 2013 NBA draught and was chosen 15th overall by the Bucks. He led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories in 2016–17, becoming the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics. In 2017, he was named the Most Improved Player. Antetokounmpo has five All-Star selections, including being named All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020, when he led the Eastern Conference in voting.
Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA MVP awards in 2019 and 2020, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to do so before the age of 26. Along with his MVP award, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, making him only the third player, after Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994), to win both awards in the same season. Antetokounmpo was voted Finals MVP in 2021 after helping lead the Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971.
Giannis Adetokunbo was born on December 6, 1994, in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian immigrants. His parents had moved from Lagos three years before, leaving their firstborn son, Francis, in the care of his grandparents. Adetokunbo grew raised in the Sepolia district of Athens. Because his parents could not easily find work as immigrants, Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis, assisted by hawking watches, handbags, and sunglasses on the streets. Adetokunbo began playing basketball in 2007.
Despite the fact that Adetokunbo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically obtain Greek citizenship because Greek nationality law follows jus sanguinis. Adetokunbo could not leave the country for the first 18 years of his life and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria. On May 9, 2013, less than two months before the 2013 NBA Draft, he was granted Greek citizenship.
After obtaining Greek citizenship in 2013, his surname was changed to oo, the Greek transcription of Adetokunbo, which was then letter-for-letter transliterated and officially spelled on his Greek passport as Antetokounmpo. Giannis is a colloquial term for Gr. Ioannis (John). Because many people couldn't pronounce his surname, he became known as the 'Greek Freak.' Antetokounmpo is also a Nigerian citizen, having obtained a Nigerian passport in 2015. Antetokounmpo obtained Nigerian citizenship in 2015, making him a multi-national citizen (being both a Greek national and a Nigerian national).
During the 2011–12 season, Antetokounmpo was a member of the senior men's team of Filathlitikos in the semi-pro Greek B Basket League (Third Division).Antetokounmpo signed a four-year contract with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza in December 2012, just days after turning 18 years old, reportedly with NBA buyouts after each season. A number of other major European clubs, including Barcelona and Efes, were interested in signing him.
During the 2012–13 Greek A2 League season, Antetokounmpo averaged 22.5 minutes per game and shot 46.4 percent from the field (62.1 percent on two-point field goals), 31.3 percent from three-point range, and 72.0 percent from the free throw line. He averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game in 26 games. He was also chosen as a special participant in the 2013 Greek League All-Star Game by the coaches. Despite the fact that he was not selected as an all-star, the coaches allowed him to play in the game as a special treat for the fans.
Early Milwaukee Years (2013–2016)
Antetokounmpo declared himself eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft on April 28, 2013. He was selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, fulfilling his draught projections as a first-round pick. He signed his rookie scale contract with the Bucks on July 30, 2013. Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut on October 13, 2013, at the age of 18 years, 311 days, making him one of the league's youngest players ever. During his rookie season, he averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 77 games.
He scored in double figures 23 times and grabbed at least 10 rebounds twice, resulting in double-doubles on both occasions. He finished the season with 61 total blocks, which led all NBA rookies and ranked seventh in Bucks rookie history. He was chosen to compete in the NBA All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans, where he finished with nine points, two rebounds, and two assists in 17 minutes. He was named to the 2013–14 NBA All-Rookie second team at the end of the season.
Antetokounmpo's second season with the Bucks saw him grow as an individual and as a team player. In a loss to the Houston Rockets on February 6, 2015, he set a career high with 27 points and 15 rebounds. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played February 2–8, earning Player of the Week honours for the first time in his career three days later. Later that year, at NBA All-Star Weekend in New York, he competed in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on March 9, he set a career high with 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting.
All-Star seasons (2016–2018)
On September 19, 2016, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension. Antetokounmpo's fourth season with the Bucks would be his breakout year, as he increased his statistical output and rose to stardom. He had a career-high 39 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in a 123–96 win over the Washington Wizards on December 23. A few weeks later, Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 13 rebounds, as well as his first game-winning buzzer beater, a 15-foot turnaround jumper that gave the Bucks a 105–104 win over the New York Knicks.
Antetokounmpo had at least 20 points in 14 consecutive games against the Knicks on January 6, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006. In addition, he became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in each of the league's five major categories in a regular season. Antetokounmpo was selected to the All-NBA Second Team as a consequence of his performances, giving him his first All-NBA accolade. He was also named the NBA's Most Improved Player for the 2016–17 season, making him the first player in Bucks history to receive the honour.
Antetokounmpo started the 2017–18 season on a high note, scoring 175 points in the first five games, including a then-career-high 44 points in a 113–110 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. During the season, he averaged nearly 27 points per game, earning his second straight All-Star nod and All-NBA selection, and he broke Kareem Abdul Jabbar's franchise record for triple doubles.
Rising Bucks and MVP Awards
From the 2018–19 season forward, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have enjoyed a run of consistent success. The Bucks started the season with seven straight wins under new coach Mike Budenholzer, and went 25–10 before the New Year. Antetokounmpo was instrumental in the team's early success, winning Player of the Month honours in the Eastern Conference in October, November, and December, as well as in February. In a 130–125 defeat against the 76ers on March 17, Antetokounmpo set a career best with 52 points and 16 rebounds.
He avenged the defeat with a 45-point, 13-rebound performance in a 128–122 win against the 76ers on April 4, helping the Bucks secure the Eastern Conference's top spot. He became the second Bucks player to win MVP, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the third youngest player to win the MVP in the past 40 seasons, after Derrick Rose and LeBron James. On October 24, 2019, Antetokounmpo opened the 2019–20 season with a triple-double, scoring 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists in a 117–111 victory against the Houston Rockets.
Antetokounmpo hit a career-high five three-pointers on December 19 to lead Milwaukee over the Western Conference's top seed, the Los Angeles Lakers, and help the Bucks win the NBA's best record, 25–4. Antetokounmpo was chosen an All-Star Game captain for the second year in a row on January 23, 2020, with James. Antetokounmpo said he didn't have a basketball hoop to practise with during the season's delay, which stretched from early March to the end of July due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
He subsequently explained that he did have access to a gym and a basketball hoop, saying that his previous remarks were intended to 'get a little bit ahead of the competition.' On July 31, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks began their season against the Boston Celtics, with Antetokounmpo leading the way with 36 points and 15 rebounds. Despite a 3–5 record in the seeding games, the Bucks ended with the best record in the NBA for the second year in a row, with a 56–17 record.
According to Basketball Reference, Antetokounmpo set an all-time record for single-season NBA Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 31.9, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain's previous mark of 31.82. The Bucks made it to the second round of the playoffs, but were defeated 4–1 by the Miami Heat. As time expired in Game 2, Jimmy Butler of the Heat was fouled while shooting by Antetokounmpo, resulting in Butler's game-winning walk-off free throws.
After re-injuring his right ankle in Game 3, Antetokounmpo missed the most of Game 4. Milwaukee won the game, but Antetokounmpo was also ruled out of Game 5 of the series, which saw the Bucks eliminated. Antetokounmpo earned his second straight Most Valuable Player title on September 18, 2020. He became just the third player in NBA history to win MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.
NBA champion and Finals MVP
In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a seven-game series victory against the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 31.9 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. After crashing into Clint Capela and falling awkwardly during the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on June 29, 2021, Antetokounmpo sustained an injury to his left knee, culminating in a horrific hyperextension.
The Bucks lost 110–88 because Antetokounmpo did not return to the game. He did not have any ligament injuries, according to MRI findings. As a consequence of the knee injury, Antetokounmpo has been ruled out of Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite the fact that the series was tied at 2–2, the Bucks won Games 5 and 6 in his absence, going to the NBA Finals for the first time in 47 years.
Antetokounmpo returned just in time for the finals against the Phoenix Suns' resurgent team. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds in a 118–108 defeat in his Finals debut. He subsequently had back-to-back games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a Game 2 loss and a Game 3 win, becoming the first player since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 to do it in consecutive Finals games. He also joined Jordan, O'Neal, and James as the only players in the past 50 years to score at least 40 points in back-to-back Finals games.
After losing the first two games of the series, the Bucks continued their comeback by winning the following four games. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first title in 50 years with 50 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks in Game 6. He averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks throughout the course of the series, and was unanimously voted NBA Finals MVP. He is the youngest Finals MVP since Kawhi Leonard in 2014. He is 26 years and 226 days old.
Career with the national squad
Antetokounmpo initially represented Greece with the Greek Under-20 national team at the 2013 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship in July 2013. He averaged 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists over the course of the 10 games, helping Greece to an 8–2 record and a fifth-place overall finish. He was second in defensive rebounds (7.0) and eighth in blocked shots at the end of the tournament (1.4).
At EuroBasket 2015, Greece were undefeated in the group stages and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were defeated by eventual champions Spain in a close game. Antetokounmpo led his team in rebounding for the tournament with three double-doubles and a career-high 17 rebounds against Spain. He averaged 9.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game in eight appearances.
In three games with Greece in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin, Antetokounmpo averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game. In five games, Antetokounmpo averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game for Greece in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Antetokounmpo has appeared in 49 games for the senior men's Greek national team this year. He has a total of 573 points on the season, averaging 11.7 points per game.
Profile of the Player
Antetokounmpo, who is 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m) tall and weighs 242 pounds (110 kg), is technically classified as a forward and is often referred to as a point forward, although he has played all five positions. Antetokounmpo is a very athletic and versatile player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest all-around players in the NBA, with many pundits hailing him as 'positionless' and a symbol of the league's future. Antetokounmpo's career regular season averages are 20.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game as of July 2021.
Antetokounmpo has established himself as one of the league's most lethal slashers and transition scorers by the 2016–17 season. In addition, Antetokounmpo has created his own version of the Euro step, which enables him to attack the rim straight from the three-point line in a move that 'renders the space between the top of the key and the basket all but undefendable,' according to Jordan Brenner of ESPN.com. Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, has been chastised for his lack of a consistent jump shot, having only hit 31% from three-point range once in his career.
Antetokounmpo has also gotten praise for his playmaking abilities. Despite not being the Bucks' main ball handler, he has primarily directed their offence. Antetokounmpo was responsible for 57.8% of the Bucks' points during the 2019–20 season, one of the highest percentages in the league (via assisting and scoring). During the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, he averaged almost 6 assists per game.
Antetokounmpo is also regarded as a top defensive player, capable of defending all five positions but preferring to play in the 'free safety' role, which enables him to prowl the paint and deter rim attempts. He's also a skilled shot-blocker who has a reputation for stopping opponents in transition.
The Bucks have blossomed into one of the league's top defensive teams with Antetokounmpo in this position, leading the NBA in defensive rating in 2018-19 and 2019–20. Antetokounmpo earned the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for his defensive efforts, and he has been a regular NBA All-Defensive selection.
Antetokounmpo's father, Charles, is a former high jumper, while his mother, Veronica, is a former Nigerian football player. Charles passed away in September 2017 at the age of 54. Veronica gave each of her five kids a Greek and a Nigerian name, with Giannis receiving the Nigerian name Ugo ( OO-goh). His parents are from two distinct ethnic groups in Nigeria: Charles is Yoruba, and Veronica is Igbo.
According to basketball legend Hakeem Olajuwon, who is also Yoruba, Adetokunbo's original family name means 'the crown has returned from abroad.' Giannis wears the number 34 as a tribute to his parents, who were born in the years 1963 and 1964, respectively. Francis (Greek name Andreas) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo have two elder brothers, Francis (Greek name Andreas) and Thanasis, and two younger brothers, Kostas and Alex.
Antetokounmpo was reared in the Greek Orthodox Church as a Christian. On October 28, 2012, he and his brother Alex were baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church. Except for Francis and Thanasis, the Antetokounmpo family relocated from Athens to Milwaukee in early 2014, following their son and sibling. Giannis and Thanasis started their obligatory military duty in Greece in July 2016.
The two brothers completed a three-month military duty, which is required of Greek nationals who live permanently in another country. His son, Liam Charles, was born on February 10, 2020, to his girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger. She is expecting their second child in May 2021. Antetokounmpo and his family announced on March 13, 2020 that they will donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum employees who were unable to work throughout the 2019–20 NBA season due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
In the year 2020, Antetokounmpo and his family will also give 20,000 masks to individuals in Athens and Zografou, Greece. Antetokounmpo purchased a minority ownership stake in the Milwaukee Brewers from Major League Baseball on August 20, 2021.