Giannis Antetokounmpo refused to join a superteam and chose the hard way to success

By Antonis Stroggylakis/ [email protected]

Everything is possible. That was the message that newly crowned 2021 NBA champion and Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo wanted to send to the world and people in Greece and Nigeria in particular, shortly after the crowning moment of his career so far.

With both the Larry O’Brien championship trophy and the Bill Russell Finals MVP hardware in his arms, the Milwaukee Bucks superstar expressed his wish that his own remarkable life story and inspiring journey will encourage others to keep hoping and pursuing their dreams.

“This should make every person, every kid, anybody around the world believe in their dreams,” Antetokounmpo said. “No matter whatever you feel when you’re down, when you don’t think it’s going to happen for you or you might not make it in your career — might be basketball, might be anything — just believe on what you’re doing and keep working. Don’t let nobody tell you what you can be and what you cannot do. People told me I cannot make free throws. I made my free throws tonight and I’m a freaking champion. I made them when I’m supposed to make them. I’m joking — actually, I’m not (chuckles).”

“Just believe, man. I hope I give people around the world, from Africa, from Europe, hope that it can be done. It can be done,” Antetokounmpo added.

“Eight years ago, eight and a half years ago, when I came to the league, I didn’t know where my next meal will come from. You know my mom was selling stuff in the street. Now I’m here sitting at the top of the top. I’m extremely blessed. I’m extremely blessed. If I never have a 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. I want them to believe in their dreams.”

The whole post-game presser was quite candid with the Greek Freak speaking from the heart. But it was when he looked back at the struggles his family faced back in Greece and the sacrifices his parents made to raise him and his brothers, that he became really emotional and broke into tears.

“The whole journey. In order for me to be in this position, how much my parents sacrificed. How much my parents sacrificed. I saw that every day. Every day in my life,” Giannis said. “This is for my mom, she worked extremely hard every day for me to be in this position and she never pressured me to do other things. This is for my dad, that he’s watching from above and he can see it. And this is for my significant other, also. Every day, she helps me be better, a better person. She let me do what I’m supposed to do, and she takes care of my son and my next son. And for my brothers.

“I can be stubborn sometimes,” Giannis added, as if he was confessing something in sheer honesty. “I can disconnect myself from the world because I want this so bad. I wanted this so bad, and I was able to get it. That’s why I was tearing up. But people helped me to be in this position. I didn’t do it by myself. Every freaking day, people helped me.

And I want to thank my dad, my mom, my significant other, Mariah, and my brothers and my son, and the people throughout the journey that helped me.”

Giannis had affirmed his loyalty to the Bucks and unwavering commitment to bringing that elusive championship to Milwaukee numerous times throughout the years he’s been with the team. His character and mindset are such that he simply couldn’t allow himself to leave and join another franchise, while the task is still undone.

“I just I couldn’t leave,” Antetokounmpo said. “There was a job that had to be finished. The bubble did not pay us justice. Give credit to the Miami Heat. They played great. But they did not pay us justice. Everybody was feeling homesick. We are a family-oriented team and we wanted to see our families.”

“But coming back, I was like, this is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us,” Giannis added. “Even when we lost, the city was still — went outside and you know, obviously I wanted to get the job done. But that’s my stubborn side.”

The prospect of joining a superstar-laden team that would potentially steamroll its way towards winning the title wasn’t appealing to Giannis. So he stuck to his own way. The hard way. And he succeeded.

“It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It’s easy. I could go — I don’t put — I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship. But this is the hard way to do it and this is the way to do it and we did it. F–k it. did it. We did it, man.”

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