Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday congratulated Greek hoospter Giannis Antetokounmpo for being named the Most Valuable Player of the United States' preeminent National Basketball Association.
“You have made the Greeks proud, not just by the example you set but also with your amazing ethos. I offer you my heartfelt congratulations,” Pavlopoulos said in a message to the 24-year-old Milwaukee Bucks forward, who averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds while earning All-NBA first-team honors this season, his sixth with the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo broke down in tears as he accepted the award in a ceremony in California, thanking his “hero” mother and late father for supporting him on his stellar career path from modest beginnings in the impoverished downtown Athens neighborhood of Sepolia, where his parents Charles and Veronica had settled after migrating from Nigeria, to the top flight of world basketball.
“We started from nothing as a family, and we are going to be in every stage that we can be as a family,” he said. “When you hear your name up there on the stage and then you realize these years of hard work, what you did in the past, then you start getting emotional.”
“This is just the beginning,” said an upbeat Antetokounmpo. “My goal is to win a championship. As my dad told me, always want more but never be greedy. My goal is to win a championship and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
Addressing his “amazing mom,” who was at the ceremony, Antetokounmpo spoke of her role in encouraging him to pursue his dream. “As a little kid, you don’t see the future right? If you have a good parent, your parent sees the future for you. She always saw the future in us, she always believed in us, she was always there for us. She’s the foundation of this family. You’re my true hero,” the 24-year-old said.
“We are beyond proud of Giannis for earning his first MVP award,” Bucks General Mmanager Jon Horst said on the team’s official website. “This well-deserved honor is due to his relentless hard work and dedication in becoming the most impactful player in the NBA. “Giannis propelled the Bucks to great heights last season with his leadership, drive and unselfish play. His grace on and off the court has made him one of the most admired players in the world.”