Ten Years in the League for Giannis Antetokounmpo: How the Greek Freak Reached Stardom

It was on the night of June 27th 2013 when a skinny 18-year-old boy from Athens, Greece named Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected with the 15th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in a move that was about to revive the Milwaukee’s franchise. Not much was expected from this tall but very slim boy from Greece but only 10 years since he entered the NBA Giannis has established himself as one of the top players in the league. He is a 2-time MVP, NBA Champ and Finals MVP, and the Greek Freak’s hunger seems to be as unsatisfied as the first day he entered the league. Let’s find out a bit more about how one of the best players in the world became what he is.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

Giannis’s Family Story

Giannis, known mainly to his fans as The Greek Freak, is born and raised in Athens, Greece but his parents (Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo) immigrated from Nigeria to Greece, so Giannis and his 4 siblings were black children of immigrants in a predominately white country. Naturally, this led to some tough moments for Giannis and his family with at least half a dozen racial incidents targeting the future superstar and his siblings well recorded.

Also, Giannis was born in Athens in 1994, while his parents immigrated to Greece in 1991. Yet, Giannis and 3 other of his siblings were not recognised as citizens of any country for many years. Up until he was 18 Giannis was not a Nigerian, nor a Greek, and only after he got drafted to the NBA the Greek authorities finally gave him citizenship.

It was the good heart of the basketball team’s Filathlitikos Panagiotis Zivas that propelled Giannis and his elder brother Thanasis to the NBA. In 2007 Zivas found jobs for his parents, recruited the 2 talented youngsters to his team and for many years kept helping the family financially. Giannis certainly made the most of the chance he was given and 10 years ago his life changed for good when the Bucks ignored all the “expert” reports on the skinny boy and drafted him in. As they say, the rest is history, and what a history!

Giannis Antetokounmpo Early NBA Years

Giannis youth

In his first 3 years as an NBA player Giannis was a decent role player but nothing more. He lacked the physic to compete properly and also didn’t have the shooting from a distance most other players had. Giannis averaged just 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in his rookie season.

He kept improving his numbers and building more and more muscle over the next 2 years though. It was during the 2016-17 season when Giannis finally announced himself to the world and hinted that he could become a superstar. He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists that year and it was exactly in his 4th year in the league he officially became the new face of the Bucks.

Once this happened there was no stopping the Greek Freak and he has been going from strength to strength in the last 6 seasons.

Giannis’s Rise to a Superstar Caliber Player

In his year 5 Giannis averaged a double-double for the first time – 26.9 points and 10.0 rebounds. Then in his year 6, he kept improving and this saw Giannis officially joining the elite of basketball as he was pronounced the 2018-19 regular season’s MVP.

Giannis remained hungry and ultra-aggressive, he also got stronger with each season. So in his year 7, he won the MVP again joining a very limited number of players that have done that in back-to-back seasons.

Then a year later Giannis officially cemented his name as one of the Superstars of the league as he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the 2021 NBA Title, first for the Bucks in decades, and in the process, the Greek Freak was awarded the Finals MVP.

Milwaukee remain a dominant force in the league and Giannis is at the heart of all they have done. The Bucks just had the best regular season record in the freshly finished 2022-23 season, with this also the first year Giannis averaged over 30 points per game – 31.1.

It seems Giannis’ journey to NBA stardom is far from over and we foresee this fine machine of muscle, energy and determination known to his many fans as the Greek Freak to keep on breaking records, winning trophies and entertaining us all for at least 10 more years.

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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.