After Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game-winning fadeaway/stepback hybrid jumper over the Knicks in the world’s most famous arena, The Madison Square Garden, in one of the most iconic cities in the world, New York City, it’s hard to not think about how far he has come. He was once a 15th overall draft selection leaving Bucks fans thinking, “Who the hell was that?” as his last name that doesn’t end flashed across TV screens for the first time. As a rookie he showed signs, as a second-year man he showed flashes, and at the end of last season, he showed the beginning of a breakout. This year, he has become a flat-out undeniable superstar and is a few months from his first All-Star game that he should probably get to start in. Oh yeah, and there was a first smoothie and a Dunleavy shoulder check somewhere along the way.
His first career buzzer beater comes right off an impressive 26-point, 10-rebound, five-assist performance in a win over Russell Westbrook’s Thunder. Giannis is also the first Buck to be on the cover Sports Illustrated since 1982, and that was announced on Tuesday. Overall, it’s been a pretty awesome week for Milwaukee’s rising star, and he still has a national TV appearance on Friday vs. the Knicks, who have to deal with Antetokounmpo’s wrath for the second time in three days.
The Greek Freak went from raw, perhaps the rawest, of potential, to Bucks fans shouting MVP during a career high 39-point effort against the Wizards as a 22-year-old. His jump happened so fast, and now he’s earning national praise with much more frequency just as of the last few weeks. One thing Giannis harps is his work ethic. Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated highlighted some of Giannis’s work ethic in a terrific feature that everyone should read, including Giannis working out til as late as 3:00 a.m. following games.
That’s the crazy thing about Giannis’s brilliance, though. His greatness doesn’t exude work ethic. He does it in a manner that seems so easy, so effortless. The Greek Freak’s success seems inevitable. Every night, you not only seem him do things he hasn’t done before, but it seems like things no one has ever done before. He glides in a way no one glides. He makes his body fit into spaces like no one his size should be able to do. He can jump from further out and dunk than anyone else can even dream of. He will dunk on you. He will dunk on three of you. He’s a 29% three-point shooter, but I’ll never be bothered by him shooting.
Just as important for Bucks fans, it’s been documented about Antetokounmpo’s love for the usually unlovable city of Milwaukee, but even last night he couldn’t help himself.
And, this is just a few days after this tweet from 2014 started recirculating around Twitter:
Giannis is either an alien or a god that, for some reason unknown but let’s just be grateful, was born to save Milwaukee, and I can’t be convinced otherwise. Milwaukee is his now and forever, and I hope he never gets tired of it.