Giannis Antetokoumnpo's journey to becoming an NBA champion is something right out of a movie.
From an unknown prospect in Greece to a skinny teenage rookie, The Greek Freak has evolved into an All-NBA powerhouse, with the resume to go with it.
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With the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy in hand, the 26-year-old was overjoyed as he celebrated bringing Milwaukee their first NBA championship in 50 years, reflecting on the journey that brought him to this point.
"Eight and a half years ago, before I came into the league, I didn't know where my next meal would come from," Antetokounmpo said. "My mom was selling stuff in the street. And now I'm here, sitting at the top of the top, "I'm extremely blessed.
"Even if I never have the chance to sit on this table ever again, I'm fine with it. I'm fine with it. I hope this can give everybody around the world hope and allow them to believe in their dreams."
"Giannis, when you first started playing basketball.. did you ever think a moment like this would happen?"- NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2021
"No, man. No, no, no, no."#NBAFinals presented by YouTube TV pic.twitter.com/LuUpdTBTrg
After being named Finals MVP, Antetokounmpo joins Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to win multiple MVPs, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP and is the first player in NBA history to win those awards with a Most Improved Payer of the Year to go with it.
Now a global icon, Antetokounmpo became the first European player to be named Finals MVP since Dirk Nowitzki and the first African since fellow Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995. Andre Iguodala (2015) is also of Nigerian descent.
"Obviously I represent both countries Nigeria and Greece," Antetokounmpo said.
"A lot of kids from there, not just from Nigeria, from the whole of Africa and whole of Europe, I know that I'm a role model, this should make every person, every kid, anybody around the world to believe in their dreams."
"No matter, whatever you feel, when you feel down, when things don't look like it's going to happen for you, you might not make it in your career -- might be basketball, might be anything. Just believe in what you're doing. Keep working.
"Don't let nobody tell you what you can't be and what you cannot do."
From his humble beginnings in Greece to reaching the mountain top with the team who drafted him in 2013, Antetokounmpo made good on his promise to bring a title to Milwaukee. Set to be the marquee free agent of this summer, with teams around the league queuing up for his signature, he instead penned a five-year max extension in the previous off-season, committing his prime years to the Bucks.
This is my home, this is my city.. I'm blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let's make these years count. The show goes on, let's get it. 🤎🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/895tCBE9RK- Giannis Ugo Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) December 15, 2020
After the front office added more pieces to complement their MVP, mainly in the form of Jrue Holiday, plus Game 6 standout Bobby Portis and veteran P.J. Tucker, fast-forward seven months from him signing and the Bucks have reached their goal after mortgaging a ton of assets to win right now.
While he could have had his head turned by the glamour of a bigger market or teaming up with another superstar, Antetokounmpo got the job done alongside his guys, especially Khris Middleton who is the lone player remaining on the roster from Antetokounmpo's rookie season.
Fitting that the pair led the franchise to their first title since 1971 as the team's two main stars.
"It's easy to go somewhere and go and win a championship with somebody else. It's easy," Antetokounmpo continued.
"I could go to a superteam and, you know, just do my part and win a championship. But this is the hard way to do it and the way we were going to do it. And we did it. We f---ing did it."
They sure did.
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