As of today, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only player from the 2013 NBA Draft to have been selected from either conference in the All-Star game. Known as the “Greek Freak” in quasi-NBA circles, of which include persons who can’t fully pronounce his surname, the 22-year-old Antetokounmpo has made a name, a myth and a young legacy for himself.
For those who aren’t avid fans of the Milwaukee Bucks, the chronicles of Giannis likely started on Twitter two-plus years ago, due to a camera shot catching one of his 12-inch hands cradling his cheek. Over the next year or so, he was concealed from the public like a Stradivarius violin. It wasn’t until after last year’s midseason break that the Greek Freak emerged into a triple-double, media-altering machine, one that would play point guard on occasion.
Fast forward to this year, and we have already seen his fadeaway buzzer beater that slayed the Knicks. Additionally, his face has graced a regional Sports Illustrated Cover, while his notoriety has been heightened to ridiculous measures thanks to the gobs of hashtags courtesy of his younger brother, Thanasis, who was vouching for his stat-stuffing kin. With the NBA trying to quiet fans in the voting process by allocating 25 percent of the vote to media members and players, one doesn’t have to think too hard to come to the following conclusion: Giannis and his myriad nicknames are here to stay, simply because it wasn’t just Twitter-based hype from GIF-watching casuals that awarded him an All-Star starting spot.
Sure, every year there are flukish selections. For example, last year the ailed and enervated version of Kobe Bryant took the floor at tipoff inside the Air Canada Centre, despite shooting less than 36 percent from the field. In February of 2004, journeyman big Jamaal Magloire, then a member of the New Orleans Hornets, laced up for the Eastern Conference. Of course, both instances were circumstantial, whether it was an honorary matter (Bryant), or a less-than-spectacular field of players to choose from.
Milwaukee fans, of whom just saw the Bucks’ front office ink Antetokounmpo to a four-year, $100 million contract extension, hope this isn’t a fluke.
Once you consider that Giannis joined Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond and Draymond Green as the only players drafted in 2012 or later to have made an All-Star game, the point forward’s feat appears that much greater.
The man’s sinewy, bottle-rocket athleticism tends to deter and rubber sole it meets in the lane, while on defense his instincts and spastic hands allow him to secure two blocks and two steals per game. Giannis, who will be the first Buck to start in an All-Star game since Sidney Moncrief in 1986, has untold potential. Whether his intentions be quenching a championship drought in the Brew City, or bettering his jump shot, a player who developed out of unknowingness can’t get cozy now.
The exponential play of Giannis makes it seem as if this league-wide bestowal is a sign of things to come. Consider this: LeBron was 20-years-old when he made his first All-Star game; Kevin Durant was 21. Carmelo Anthony was 22. Sense a trend amongst perennial All-Stars?
His arms may always seem outstretched, he may get some scrutiny for the Bucks’ less-than-stellar record, but the one thing that doesn’t seem like it will unfairly hyperextend is the growing legend of Giannis Antetokounmpo, as it appears to be hard-earned, and an omen that the NBA will love.