December 24, 2015

Five reasons why Giannis Antetokounmpo is such a fan favorite in Milwaukee. 


Every year around this time, there is a hot new toy that children around the world must have. This year, thanks to a cursory Google search, it looks like children want something called a Beatbo, something from the movie Frozen, a lightsaber, or maybe a Barbie that rides a horse.

While adults don’t put toys on their wish list (often), they do have wish lists for their professional sports teams. On the top of that list each year is a championship, but just below that on the list is a player that could lead you to a championship. In a perfect world, that player would also be someone that you would love to cheer for every season.

Well, it just so happens that Bucks fans live in that perfect world because Giannis Antetokounmpo is that guy. Last week, I remarked that I could not think of a player that the city of Milwaukee has loved more than Antetokounmpo. The response I received confirmed this adoration. So here are the five reasons why he is probably the most lovable player in the NBA.

  1. Incredible backstory. Unlike other stars throughout the league, Antetokounmpo did not dominate AAU ball during the summer or get recruited by the best college programs. Instead he was forced to be a street vendor as a teenager on the streets of Greece to help his parents who had emigrated from Nigeria to Greece before he was born. It’s incredibly easy to cheer for him to overcome his hard childhood.
  2. Innocence. Often fans will complain about the arrogance of some players or the way they carry themselves, but Antetokounmpo has no such predispositions. Much was made of Antetokounmpo having his first smoothie, but he had never tasted peanut butter before he started in the NBA. There is nothing tainted about him. He is innocent and pure.
  3. Endless possibilities. There really haven’t been many (if, any) players like Antetokounmpo before. He’s seven feet tall. He has impossibly long limbs. He is incredibly athletic with smooth movements. He can handle the ball. He is a strong passer, who sees the game well. He has shown an ability to shoot a jump shot. At this point, he could be anything in the NBA, which allows people toget lost in his vast potential as an NBA player.
  4. Flawed. If a player is undeniably great, people just accept it. Antetokounmpo, at this point of his career, remains flawed. He hasn’t found confidence in his jump shot yet and viewers from the outside can continue to question his abilities. In turn, Bucks fans jump to defend him from these critiques, which only further galvanizes fans’ love and adoration for Antetokounmpo.
  5. Embraced Milwaukee. While Bucks fans regularly fight for him, Antetokounmpo has stood up for the city and said that he wants to be with the Bucks forever. No one can tell the future, but for a city with some abandonment issues with their best professional athletes, it was comforting for fans to hear and helped them truly embrace Antetokounmpo.

So, while you compile your sports fan wish lists, feel free to put down a few more wins for the Bucks, but don’t worry about putting down a player that could lead the Bucks to a championship because you’re not going to find one more lovable than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

When Draymond Green brings the ball up the floor for the Warriors this season, it has typically led to good things for the Warriors. On this play, the Bucks didn’t just stop Green-led fast break, they took it the other way and scored with some pretty passing between Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker.

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