Milwaukee Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo could legitimately go down as the best African and European player ever after being named a first-team All-NBA selection for the fifth time, per HoopsHype.
The only international player with more first-team All-NBA selections is Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, who was born in Lagos. Ironically, though Antetokounmpo has been coined the ‘Greek Freak’ after leaving Greece’s Filathlitikos, Giannis’ parents also hale from Nigeria.
In fact, though the Nigerian-Greek family lived in the Greek neighborhood of Sepolia during his youth, Antetokounmpo describes it as “a Nigerian home” (h/t Andscape’s Marc J. Spears):
“Obviously, I was born in Greece and went to school in Greece,” Giannis says. “But at the end of the day when I go home, there is no Greek culture. It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline, it’s about respecting your elders, having morals.”
Misnomers and mischaracterizations aside, Antetokounmpo was granted citizenship by Greece when he was 18-years-old, leading to major changes. One of which came in the transliteration of his original family name, Adétòkunbọ̀. The most important of which allowed the young man who now went by Antetokounmpo to progress on what would eventually become a path towards the NBA, as the Bucks would select the then thin and lanky forward with the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
His physical and player development have skyrocketed since then of course, with him amassing a multitude of accolades over the past decade. Not only in the all-league selections but with the 2017 Most Improved Player award, 2019 and 2020 NBA MVP awards, 2020 Defensive Player of the Year award, 2021 NBA championship and subsequent Finals MVP award.
Now, the player who feels a connection to both Greece and Africa, can add the best Euro prospect of all-time to his resume.
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