Each passing day, Giannis Antetokounmpo is becoming more and more the Greek phenomenon in NBA and much less the “Greek freak”. His recent act outside Madison Square Garden to refuse to desecrate the Greek flag by signing his authograph on it makes him a great patriot as well.
After that, the great basketball player of the Milwaukee Bucks has turned all Greek Americans to Milwaukee fans. On Thursday, Antetokounmpo played at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. He scored 27 points and won 13 rebounds, including one that put the Bucks in the lead as the clock counted down to zero.
In fact, among the crowd of people who asked for his autograph were many Knicks fans who have become Milwaukee Bucks fans as well. Even when the Bucks play the Knicks, they support Milwaukee. After all Giannis is not just a good Greek player, but he is one of the greatest, soon to join the list of future NBA legends.
Giannis’ respect for the Greek flag should be praised because up until 2013 the young man was essentially a man without a country. Simply because Greek law did not allow non-Greek born children of immigrants in the country to become Greek citizens.
Despite his great talent, Antetokounmpo could not play on Greece’s national basketball team. Furthermore, he didn’t have a passport as a minor and was not allowed to travel abroad. When he turned 18, on December 2012, he signed a contract with Saragossa in Spain, he was later a top draft pick in the NBA draft in 2013.
Thanks to the Greek Basketball Federation that wanted Giannis to play on the national team, traditional red tape and laws that were not very friendly to foreigners were circumvented and finally Antetokounmpo was granted Greek citizenship. Just in time to travel to the U.S. for the draft. He was the #15 pick by the Milwaukee Bucks and signed with them on July 30, 2013.
Today, the Greek player of Nigerian descent is in the running All-Star Game vote. Antetokounmpo has received 500,663 total votes so far and 2017 would be his first All-Star Game — a well-earned honor at this point. Note that LeBron James is the leading vote-getter with 595,288 and Kyrie Irving runs second with 543,030 votes.
"I am not gonna sign the flag," those were the words of Giannis Antetokounmpo to a fan who asked him to sign the Greek…