|Intro||Greek professional basketball player|
|A.K.A.||Greek Freak, Gannis Antetokounpo|
|Birth||26 December 1794, Athens, Greece|
Giannis Sina Ougko Antetokounmpo (YAH-nis AHN-teh-tuh-KOOM-poh; Greek: Γιάννης Αντετοκούνμπο, [ˈʝanis adetoˈkumbo]; born December 6, 1994) is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Born in Greece to Nigerian parents, Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club’s senior team before entering the 2013 NBA Draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. Antetokounmpo’s combination of size, speed and ball-handling skills led to his nickname the “Greek Freak“.
In 2016–17 he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. He has received four All-Star selections, including being selected as the Eastern Conference captain for 2020, and led the Eastern Conference in voting in 2019. In June 2019, he was named the NBA Most Valuable Player.
Early life and career
Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 1994, the son of immigrants from Nigeria. Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos, leaving behind their firstborn son, Francis, with his grandparents. Though Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically receive full Greek citizenship as the Greek nationality law abides by the jus sanguinis. For the first 18 years of his life Antetokounmpo was effectively stateless, having no papers from Nigeria or Greece.
Antetokounmpo grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia. His parents, as immigrants, could not easily find work, so Antetokounmpo and his older brother, Thanasis, helped by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets. In 2007, Antetokounmpo started playing basketball, and was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos by 2009.
In 2011 Antetokounmpo played with the senior men’s team of Filathlitikos in the semi-pro Greek B Basket League (third Division) during the 2011–12 season. In the 2012–13 season he played in the Greek A2 League, Greece’s second division.
In December 2012, a few days after turning 18, Antetokounmpo signed a four-year deal with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza, reportedly including NBA buyouts after each season. A number of other major European clubs had been interested in adding him, including Barcelona and Efes. With the contract starting with the 2013–14 season, he decided to stay with the Filathlitikos for the remainder of the 2012–13 season.
During the 2012–13 Greek A2 League season, Antetokounmpo shot 46.4% from the field (62.1% on two-point field goals), 31.3% from three-point range, and 72.0% from the free throw line, while averaging 22.5 minutes per game. Over 26 games, he averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game. He was also selected by the coaches as a special participant in the 2013 Greek League All-Star Game. Even though he was not actually selected as an all-star, the coaches let him play in the game as a treat for the fans.
Early development (2013–2016)
On April 28, 2013, Antetokounmpo officially made himself eligible for the 2013 NBA draft. He fulfilled his draft projections as a first-round pick by being selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. On July 30, 2013, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut on October 13, 2013 at the age of 18 years, 311 days, as one of the youngest NBA players ever. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 77 appearances during his rookie season. He scored in double figures 23 times and grabbed 10+ rebounds twice, with both efforts resulting in double-doubles. He finished the season with 61 total blocks, which led all NBA rookies and was the seventh-most by a Bucks rookie in franchise history. He was selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, where he tallied nine points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. At the season’s end, he was named to the 2013–14 NBA All-Rookie second team.
On October 16, 2014, the Bucks exercised their third-year team option on Antetokounmpo’s rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2015–16 season. On February 6, 2015, he recorded a then career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to the Houston Rockets. Three days later, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played February 2–8, earning Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He later competed in the 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in New York. On March 9, he scored a then career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Bucks finished the regular season with a 41–41 record, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. He missed just one game during the 2014–15 season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 81 games. In the Bucks’ first round playoff match-up with the Chicago Bulls, they were defeated 4 games to 2.
On August 1, 2015, Antetokounmpo played for Team Africa in the 2015 NBA Africa exhibition game, representing Nigeria due to his parents being born there.
On October 26, 2015, the Bucks exercised their fourth-year team option on Antetokounmpo’s rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2016–17 season. Antetokounmpo improved his scoring to begin the 2015–16 season, averaging 16 points per game over the first 20 games. He also had a high two-point field goal percentage, hovering around 53% from inside the three-point line. On November 19, he scored a then career-high 33 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On December 12, he recorded a near triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, helping the Bucks snap the Golden State Warriors’ unbeaten start to the season with a 108–95 win. On January 15, 2016, he recorded 28 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in a 108–101 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks.
On February 22, 2016, Antetokounmpo recorded his first career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108–101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. At 21 years old, he became the youngest Buck to record a triple-double. On March 13, he recorded his fourth triple-double in 11 games with 28 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists in a 109–100 win over the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first Bucks player with four triple-doubles in a season. On April 1, he recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 113–110 win over the Orlando Magic. Two days later, he scored a career-high 34 points in a 102–98 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
All-Star years (2016–2018)
On September 19, 2016, Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension with the Bucks. In the Bucks’ season opener on October 26, Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 31 points in a 107–96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. On November 21, he recorded his sixth career triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals, and three blocks in a 93–89 win over the Orlando Magic. On November 29, he tied a career high with 34 points and added 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocks in a 118–101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks to a 3–0 week, averaging 24.3 points (fourth in the East), 10.0 rebounds (tied for fifth in the East), 6.3 assists and a league-leading 3.67 steals. On December 23, he had a career-high 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 123–96 win over the Washington Wizards. On December 31, he recorded 35 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a career-high seven blocks in a 116–96 win over the Chicago Bulls. On January 4, 2017, he recorded 27 points and 13 rebounds and made a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to give the Bucks a 105–104 victory over the New York Knicks. With 25 points against the Knicks on January 6, Antetokounmpo had at least 20 points in his 14th consecutive game, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006. On January 19, Antetokounmpo was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
On February 10, 2017, Antetokounmpo set a new career high with 41 points in a 122–114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. On February 19, 2017, he became the Bucks’ first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004, and the first starter since Sidney Moncrief in 1986. At 22 years and 74 days old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to start in an All-Star Game. He also became the first Greek NBA All-Star. In the game, he led the East with 30 points in a 192–182 loss to the West. On April 3, 2017, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for games played in March. The award marked the first of Antetokounmpo’s career and the first for a Buck since Michael Redd won the award in January 2004. Antetokounmpo joined Redd, Terry Cummings (January 1985) and Sidney Moncrief (December 1981) as the only four Bucks players to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Month. Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks finish an Eastern Conference-best 14–4 in March, the franchise’s first calendar month with at least 14 victories since going 16–2 in February 1971. He averaged 22.4 points (ninth in the East), 8.4 rebounds (10th in the East), 4.8 assists, 1.78 blocked shots (fourth in the East) and 1.33 steals in 18 games during the month. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in every one of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in the 2016–17 regular season, becoming only the fifth NBA player to do so after Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James. He also became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in the league in each of the five major categories in a regular season. As a result of his efforts, Antetokounmpo was named to the All-NBA Second Team, earning his first All-NBA honor. He was also named the recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2016–17 season, becoming the first player in Bucks history to be named Most Improved Player.
On April 15, 2017, Antetokounmpo scored a playoff career-high 28 points in a 97–83 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Playing his second career playoff series, Antetokounmpo made 13 of 18 shots, and added eight rebounds and three assists. In Game 5 of the series on April 24, Antetokounmpo set a new playoff career high with 30 points, but could not lead the Bucks to a win as they lost 118–93 to go down 3–2 in the series. The Bucks went on to lose Game 6 three days later despite a 34-point effort from Antetokounmpo, as they bowed out of the playoffs with a 4–2 defeat.
In the Bucks’ season opener on October 18, 2017, Antetokounmpo had 37 points and 13 rebounds in a 108–100 win over the Boston Celtics. Three days later, he scored a career-high 44 points in a 113–110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that put Milwaukee ahead 111–110 with 11 seconds to go. In the Bucks’ fourth game of the season on October 23, Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 14 rebounds in a 103–94 win over the Charlotte Hornets, thus registering at least 30 points in each of his first four games. His 147 points through the first four games are the most in team history—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 146 in 1970–71. Coming into the sixth game of the season, he had 175 points, 53 rebounds and 28 assists, the best start by a player in NBA history through his first five games. On November 18, he grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds to go along with 24 points in a 111–79 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. On January 6, 2018, he recorded 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 110–103 win over the Washington Wizards. He had at least 20 points and five rebounds in his 27th consecutive game, marking the longest such NBA streak since Shaquille O’Neal matched it during the 2000–01 season. On January 15, 2018, he recorded 27 points and a career-high 20 rebounds in a 104–95 win over the Wizards, becoming the second-youngest Buck to record a 20–20 game behind Andrew Bogut. Three days later, he was named a starter for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, becoming the first Buck since Marques Johnson (1979–80) to be named a starter in two straight All-Star Games. On February 15, 2018, he recorded his first triple-double of the season with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in a 134–123 loss to the Denver Nuggets. It was his ninth career triple-double, passing Abdul-Jabbar for most in Bucks history.
In Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics, Antetokounmpo recorded 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in a 113–107 overtime loss. In Game 6, Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds, as the Bucks pulled away late to beat the Celtics 97–86 to force Game 7. The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs with a 112–96 loss in Game 7, despite Antetokounmpo’s 22 points and nine rebounds.
Rising Bucks and MVP recognition (2018–present)
On October 24, 2018, Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in a 123–108 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, helping the Bucks improve to 4–0 for the first time since the 2001–02 season. It was his fourth straight 25-point, 15-rebound performance to start the season, becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain (in 1964–65 with the Philadelphia 76ers) to accomplish the feat. In four games between November 19–25, he scored at least 29 points in each contest. On December 14, he matched his career high with 44 points in a 114–102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. On December 29, he had his third triple-double of the season with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 129–115 win over the Brooklyn Nets. He was subsequently named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October, November and December, becoming the first player in Bucks history to win multiple back-to-back Player of the Month awards. He was named the Euroscar European Player of the Year for 2018, becoming the second Greek player to receive the award since Nikos Galis in 1987.
On January 9, 2019, he scored 27 points and grabbed a season-high 21 rebounds in a 116–109 win over the Houston Rockets. On February 13, he recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists in a 106–97 win over the Indiana Pacers. It was his 13th game with at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, breaking a tie with Shaquille O’Neal for the most in a single-season since 1976–77. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February. On March 17, he scored a career-high 52 points to go with 16 rebounds in a 130–125 loss to the 76ers. On April 4, he recorded 45 points and 13 rebounds in a 128–122 win over the 76ers, helping the Bucks clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. He helped the Bucks advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 after scoring 41 points in a 127–104 win in Game 4 over the Detroit Pistons for a four-game sweep. He became the fifth player in Bucks history to score 40-plus in a playoff game, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Terry Cummings, Ray Allen and Michael Redd. The Bucks went on to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were defeated 4–2 by the Raptors despite winning the first two games.
At the NBA’s end-of-season awards night, Antetokounmpo was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the second Bucks player to win MVP, and became the third-youngest player to win the MVP over the previous 40 seasons, behind Derrick Rose and LeBron James. He also became the fifth player born outside of the United States to win MVP.
Antetokounmpo began the 2019–20 season with a triple-double, recording 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 117–111 season-opening win over the Houston Rockets on October 24, 2019. On November 25, Antetokounmpo scored a season-high 50 points, along with 14 rebounds, in a 122–118 win over the Utah Jazz. On December 19, Antetokounmpo made a career-high five three-pointers to lead Milwaukee over the Lakers and claimed the NBA’s best record at 25–4. Afterwards, he stated that he needed to “stay humble” despite his continued success, explaining that he “wasn’t supposed to be here”, having not been a No. 1 draft pick like the Lakers’ James and Anthony Davis. On January 23, 2020, Antetokounmpo was named an All-Star Game captain, alongside James, for the second consecutive year.
On February 6, Antetokounmpo recorded 36 points and 20 rebounds in a 112–101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. It was just the fifth time in franchise history that a player had a 30–20 outing, and the first since 1996. He also became the first player to have five straight 30–15 games since 1985–86.
National team career
Antetokounmpo represented Greece for the first time in July 2013 with the Greek Under-20 national team at the 2013 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. He helped Greece to an 8–2 record and a fifth place overall finish, while averaging 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists across the 10 games. He finished the tournament ranked second in defensive rebounds (7.0) and seventh in blocked shots (1.4).
In 2014, Antetokounmpo played for the senior men’s Greek national basketball team for the first time, helping Greece finish ninth overall in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a 5–1 record. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds across the six games, while shooting 45.8% from the field.
Antetokounmpo again joined the Greek national team for EuroBasket 2015. Greece’s roster consisted of many experienced players, most of them previously crowned European champions with their clubs, like Vassilis Spanoulis, Ioannis Bourousis and Nikos Zisis, and Greece was a favorite for a medal, after showing great form in friendly games. At EuroBasket 2015, Greece was unbeaten in the group stages, and reached the quarter-finals, where a tight game ended in favor of the eventual champions, Spain. Antetokounmpo finished the tournament with three double-doubles, and a career-high 17 rebounds against Spain, leading his team in rebounds for the tournament. In eight games, he averaged 9.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Antetokounmpo also played with Greece at the 2016 Turin FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where he averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game in 3 games played. Greece failed to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics, after being eliminated by Croatia, by a score of 66–61. He also played with Greece during their preparation phase for the EuroBasket 2017. He scored 20 points in a prep game against Montenegro. However, he missed the actual EuroBasket 2017 tournament, due to a knee injury.
Antetokounmpo also represented Greece at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where he averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, in 5 games played. Greece finished the tournament in 11th place.
Through the year 2019, Antetokounmpo has played with the senior men’s Greek national team in 49 caps (games). He has scored a total of 573 points, for a scoring average of 11.7 points per game.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Greek A2 Basket League
|2014 World Cup||Greece||6||0||15.7||.458||.111||.789||4.3||0.3||0.7||0.3||6.3|
|2016 Olympic Qualifiers||3||3||24.7||.500||.333||.100||5.7||2.0||0.7||2.0||15.3|
|2019 World Cup||5||5||25||.522||.222||.706||8.8||2.4||2.4||0.6||14.8|
Awards and accomplishments
- NBA Most Valuable Player: 2019
- 4× NBA All-Star: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
- NBA Most Improved Player: 2017
- All-NBA First Team: 2019
- 2× All-NBA Second Team: 2017, 2018
- NBA All-Defensive First Team: 2019
- NBA All-Defensive Second Team: 2017
- NBA Rising Stars Challenge Participant: 2014, 2015
- NBA Slam Dunk Contest Participant: 2015
- NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge Participant: 2014
- NBA All-Rookie Second Team: 2014
- Euroscar European Player of the Year: 2018
When he officially gained Greek citizenship on May 9, 2013, his name was officially romanized as Giannis Antetokounmpo. His nickname is the “Greek Freak”.
Antetokounmpo’s father, Charles, was a former Nigerian association football player, while his mother, Veronica, is a former high jumper. Charles died in September 2017, at age 54. Veronica gave each of her five sons both Greek and Nigerian names, choosing the Nigerian Ougko (/ˈuːɡoʊ/ OO-goh) for Giannis. His parents are from different Nigerian ethnic groups—Charles was Yoruba, while Veronica is Igbo. According to basketball great Hakeem Olajuwon, also a Yoruba, the original family name of Adetokunbo translates to “the crown has returned from overseas”. Giannis Antetokounmpo has Croatian roots, stemming back to his 5th great-grandfather Ivan Ante Tović, settled in Lekki, Nigeria. He fell in love with a Yorubian woman. He changed his last name to Adetović, soon becoming Adetokunbo.
Antetokounmpo has two older brothers, Francis (Greek name Andreas) and Thanasis, as well as two younger brothers, Kostas and Alexis. He and Thanasis were teammates in Filathlitikos, with Kostas later joining the squad in the 2013–14 season. His oldest brother, Francis, has played football professionally in Nigeria, and both basketball and football professionally in Greece.
Following their son and brother, the entire Antetokounmpo family, except for Francis and Thanasis, moved from Athens to Milwaukee in early 2014. In July 2016, Giannis and Thanasis began their mandatory military service in Greece. The two brothers served a reduced three-month military service, as prescribed for Greek citizens who are permanent overseas residents.
Thanasis made his NBA debut with the New York Knicks after being drafted by the organization with the 51st overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He is now with the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo’s younger brother, Kostas, played college basketball for Dayton before being selected with the last pick in the 2018 NBA draft. He currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their youngest brother, Alexis, plays high school basketball in the US.
Giannis is a devoted Christian and was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. He was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church along with his brother Alexandros on October 28, 2012.
On February 10, 2020, his lifelong girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger gave birth to his son, Liam Charles, a photo of whom he tweeted on the same day.