Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian-Greek basketball superstar, realized his dream of guiding the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years on Tuesday, defeating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 to win the playoff series 4-2.
After losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks turned things around and won four straight games. And the “Greek Freak,” as he’s affectionately called, capped off a fantastic season with a remarkable individual performance on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old had 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks in the contest. And, in addition to winning the title, Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game over the course of the six games.
Antetokounmpo was born in Greece to Nigerian parents from poor beginnings. Following a time with Greek basketball team Filathlitikos, he was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th overall pick in 2013. Although the rest is history, Antetokounmpo’s childhood was far from idyllic. And, speaking to the press after winning the championship, he expressed his hope that his path will serve as an inspiration to others who look up to him.
“I represent both of my countries, Nigeria and Greece, as well as a large number of children from both,” he explained. “For Africa and Europe as a whole. I’m very aware that I’m a role model.”
“Everyone should believe in their dreams after hearing this. When things seem hopeless and it appears that you won’t make it in your career, basketball, or anything else, believe in yourself and keep striving. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t be or what you can’t accomplish.”
Face2Face Africa highlights five things you didn’t know about the Nigerian-Greek NBA star as the city of Milwaukee continues to celebrate their first NBA championship since 1971:
Yoruba and Igbo ancestors
Giannis Adetokunbo, the son of Nigerian parents Charles and Veronica Adetokunbo, was born in Athens in 1994. His mother is from the Igbo ethnic group, and his father is from the Yoruba ethnic group. Antetokounmpo – whose other names include Sina and Ugo — spoke about his upbringing in a Nigerian household in Greece and how it affected his life in an interview with The Undefeated in 2019.
He explained, “I grew up in a Nigerian family.” “Of course, I was born in Greece and attended school there. But, at the end of the day, there is no Greek culture when I return home. It’s unadulterated Nigerian culture. It’s about having discipline, respecting your elders, and having morals.”
In 2017, His father Passed away
In 1991, Giannis’ parents arrived in Greece from the West African country. Unfortunately, his father passed away in 2017. Giannis dedicated his historic triumph to his parents after the win on Tuesday.
“This is for my mother,” he continued, his eyes welling up with tears. “She puts in a lot of effort every day for me to be in this position, and she never forced me to do anything else. This is a gift for my father. He’s looking down from above, and he sees it.”
He Has championship Brothers
Giannis isn’t the only one in his family who has won an NBA title. His 29-year-old brother Thanasis is his teammate, which means he won the championship with the Bucks as well. Last year, their 23-year-old brother, Kostas, won the NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Has Not Been To Nigeria
Giannis has voiced his desire to visit his parents’ homeland of Nigeria, despite the fact that he has yet to do so. “I want to see where my family originates from, where my mother grew up, where my family grew up, and where my father grew up. That is extremely significant. He told The Undefeated, “I hope my kids can do the same for me.” “Obviously, I will have children who will grow up in the United States, but I hope that one day they will be able to come [Greece] and see where I grew up and the playground where I used to play.”
Used To Hawk In The Streets
Giannis used to hawk watches, purses, and sunglasses on the streets of Athens with his brother Thanasis to help support their parents who were struggling to find work as immigrants in the European country.