Giannis Antetokounmpo has been in the league for 10 years now. He is a superstar who won several individual awards, an NBA champion, one of the faces of the league, and a veteran now. He shared what the difference was from 10 years ago to the current Antetokounmpo.
I wasn't aware of the big lights
Madison Square Garden is the Mecca of Basketball for a reason: it's home to the most devoted and passionate fans in the world. The arena is almost always sold out, and legendary players like Michael Jordan always had statement games in MSG. It's where legends are born, but for the young Antetokounmpo, it was just another day at the office. Looking back in his first game in the New York Knicks building, the Bucks star admitted not knowing the history and prestige behind it all.
"I saw a clip of me checking into the game in New York. You could see my eyes like you could see a hunger. You know, I was 18. It was my first game and in Madison Square Garden. And I'm like, 'Damn, this kid wasn't scared of like he wasn't aware of what was going on. I wasn't aware of the big lights. I came from Greece, I came from the neighborhood Sepolia and you just put me on Madison Square Garden and I was like I don't care. I'm just trying to hoop. Now, I've been around the league, I'll probably be more scared now."
Giannis didn't have a meaningful impact in that game. He scored only one point via free throws in five minutes on the floor. Antetokounmpo didn't get a rebound, steal, or assist, but based on the look on his face, you could tell that all he ever wanted was to hoop.
Giannis after 10 years
His growth in the 10 years he has been in the league has been massive. From the physical aspect, The Greek Freak weighed 190 pounds in his rookie year while he currently weighs 242 pounds, to the mental aspect of just having the hunger, the willingness to put in the work, and the humility that despite the fame and riches, he remains the kid from Sepolia.
Not many players have achieved what he has won: the championship, DPOY, and MVP, and he has not shown any signs of slowing down. Milwaukee Bucks are the only unbeaten team in the NBA right now, and it would not be surprising if the team comes out of the East led by their main man.
Every young player dreams of becoming the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but the journey of Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece to the NBA is also a story of success that should be emulated and talked about more. Here's to hoping the Greek Freak remains humble, committed, and healthy in his career because he has the chance to become the best ever.