There are few things that sports fans love as much as a debate. One of the most touchy topics, however, is historical greatness; everyone has their own take on why Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or anyone else does or does not deserve the title of GOAT. In the current NBA, though, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a stronger and stronger case every time he steps on the floor.
Despite his statistical dominance, the Greek Freak is a humble star. While he recently had the chance to pump his own tires, Antetokounmpo chose to pay a compliment to a fellow competitor instead.
Giannis Antetokounmpo rise to NBA greatness
If true strength comes from overcoming adversity, it’s easy to see why Giannis Antetokounmpo grew into an elite athlete. While he’s currently an NBA star, the Greek Freak grew up in much different circumstances.
In Greece, Antetokounmpo parents, who had recently immigrated from Nigeria, struggled to make ends meet. There wasn’t always food in the house; Giannis and his brothers needed to do their part, too, selling accessories on the city streets. At times, the boys shared a single pair of basketball sneakers between themselves.
Despite his tough circumstances, Giannis’ talent on the court was obvious. He started playing competitive ball with Filathlitikos organization and, in 2013, declared for the NBA draft. The Milwaukee Bucks took a chance on a young, lanky Antetokounmpo at 15th overall; from then on, the rest is history.
While Antetokounmpo wasn’t immediately an NBA star, he’s grown by leaps and bounds with each passing season. The lanky teenager has grown into a legitimate star, capable of doing just about everything on the floor. Last season, Giannis was the league’s MVP; this year, he’s posting even more impressive numbers.
Greatness, however, doesn’t mean arrogance
While Giannis Antetokounmpo has a legitimate claim to be the NBA’s best player, he isn’t big into self-promotion. In fact, he didn’t even bat an eye when another player made a case for himself.
Following the All-Star break, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid called himself “the best player in the world.” Shortly after those comments, the Sixers and the Bucks faced off on the court; unsurprisingly, Giannis dominated the game and earned a win.
Antetokounmpo, however, didn’t take advantage of his opportunity to gloat. Instead, he turned the other cheek. “At the end of the day, every player in the NBA should feel like he’s the best player,” the Bucks forward explained. “Like who am I to tell him he’s not the best player in the world? Who are we to tell him that he’s not the best player in the world?”
Both on and off the court, it’s hard to argue with Giannis Antetokounmpo
While every sports fan has their own preferences, one thing is clear: Giannis Antetokounmpo is already one of the NBA’s top talents.
On the court, the Greek Freak is an all-around threat; his MVP-quality nightly average of 29.9 points, 5.8 assists, and 13.6 rebounds have made the Milwaukee Bucks a legitimate threat. They’ve already locked up a playoff berth and have a legitimate shot of taking home the NBA title.
Antetokounmpo also shines off the court. While Barack Obama might have urged him to become even more of a public force for good, Giannis is no slouch when it comes to giving back. Whether he’s in Milwaukee of his native Greece, the forward does his part in the community without looking for affirmation.
Although he won’t advocate for himself, Giannis Antetokounmpo has a legitimate claim to the ‘best player in the NBA crown.’ Just don’t expect LeBron James to hand over the crown without a fight.