Giannis Antetokounmpo is a unique example of a great athlete, but also, more importantly, an exceptional person. He is the best response to racists and all those who cannot stomach diversity – whether in Greece, the United States or the world.
He is also a unique representative for Greece, from tourism (he has participated in campaigns promoting the country) to Greek music. He and his family celebrated his being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) with Greek music. He is also a great representative of Greek basketball and is a valuable member of the national team.
At every chance he gets, Antetokounmpo promotes everything Greek. During the event in Los Angeles, California, he posed with his jacket half-open, revealing depictions of the Parthenon in its lining.
A true Greek, he has risen high, and in doing so not only carries the Greek flag wherever he goes but also respects it in a way that few others have. It was two years ago when hundreds of Greek fans met him outside Madison Square Garden to cheer him on. Smiling, and with natural geniality, he signed autographs and posed for pictures with them. When at some point some fans asked him to sign a Greek flag, he was adamant. “Not on the flag. I don’t sign on the flag,” he responded.
Antetokounmpo has had an awe-inspiring career. He started out selling CDs and watches in the streets of Athens to bring about his dream of playing in the NBA. The road from Sepolia to Milwaukee and Santa Monica – where the award ceremony was held – was not easy. It required audacity, hard work, persistence, patience and faith.
His attitude to life, his behavior, his disarming accessibility and love are impressive. He did it again during his acceptance speech, when he moved everyone by tearfully thanking his parents and Greece.
Not only does the Greek Freak offer an exceptional show on the court with his insane dunks; he is also an inexhaustible source of optimism. And all this while remaining humble, despite enormous publicity, glory and money. He remains the simple kid who practices the advice given by his father: “You should want more, but not be greedy.”
Antetokounmpo is a rare role model. He is the first Greek to win, aged just 24, the title of MVP in the world’s top basketball game.
And since he reiterates his great love for his father – who passed away two years ago – at every opportunity, and thanks him for everything he did for him, one thing is for sure: Wherever his father is, he is proud of his son. An incredible athlete and, above all, a rare human being.