Today Giannis Antetokounmpo is amongst the superstars of the NBA. He’s grown to become the Milwaukee Bucks’ franchise centerpiece and is coming off 2 straight MVP awards. The ‘Greek Freak’ wasn’t always dominant, even taking time in the league to develop into the superstar he is today.
Antetokounmpo’s time in Greece wasn’t merely a regular childhood. By his 17th birthday, he was already playing pro-ball in his home country. From a young age, he surrounded himself in a pro-environment and practiced with professional teams by the time he was a teenager.
One of these practices in 2009 led him to meet Greek National Team player Nikos Pappas. According to Pappas, he apparently challenged Giannis’ brother Kostas to a 1 on 1, but Giannis stepped in. Pappas appeared on the Greek TV talk show Tria Moutra Late Night to discuss the game. Allegedly, he first beat him 11-0, to which Giannis made the excuse that he “wasn’t wearing basketball shoes.” Following a shoe change, Pappas beat him 11-0 twice more, keeping the final score at 33-0.
Giannis Develops Tougher Mentality
Considering the heights that Giannis eventually rose to, this seems irrelevant. However, in the grand scheme of Antetokounmpo’s career, it actually gave him the mentality he carries to this day.
He said it himself in an interview last year, where he gave his perspective on the story. “After that day, I developed a beast mentality, I [never] wanted to lose again.”
Since then, Giannis went on to dominate the hardwood in Greece, where he attracted American scouts. Eventually, the Bucks selected him 15th overall in the 2013 NBA draft.
Even the most casual of basketball fans likely know of Giannis’ stellar play. Last season he torched the league for 30 PPG but left the playoffs at the hands of the Heat in the 2nd round.
Pappas never made the NBA transition but built an established career in Greece, where he won 5 titles in 7 years.