It all started with a Tweet— “Are we all set for 7pm today at the Triton basketball courts in Sepolia?” wrote the Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo on his twitter. What followed was magic as hundreds of kids from the destitute Athens suburb came to watch their local hero and current NBA rookie, together with his brother Thanasis, arrange a game of pick up basketball.
The brothers did not disappoint, leaving cheering fans in awe of the kinds of dunks and shots that NBA fans in America are accustomed to.
It was only a few years ago that most Greeks had never heard of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Today, he’s a household name.
At 6-foot-9, the baby-faced athlete was the towering star of a minor-league basketball team in the poor Athens suburb of Sepolia. Born in Greece to Nigerian parents who fled that country’s poverty, he was raised and educated in Athens.
Everything changed on June 27 when the Milwaukee Bucks selected the 19-year old in the NBA draft. Antetokounmpo leapt from the crowd and embraced his 20-year-old brother, Thanassis, who waved a giant blue-and-white Greek flag.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward today. Antetokounmpo is one of the Buck’s most high profile players— active both on and off the courts and winning hearts of Milwaukee’s toughest fans.
He returned to his native Athens for a few days, seeking to inspire young people and give them a bit of joy amid the misery of the financial crisis.