By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to become the first reigning NBA MVP to compete in a World Cup tournament. Antetokounmpo has committed to return in international competitions with the Greek national team for the first time since the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers Tournament.
A reigning NBA MVP’s presence in the World Cup is unprecedented for various reasons but mainly due to the fact that Team USA didn’t use professional players in international competitions for decades. Hence, MVPs were simply not even considered for the national team.
When USA used pro players in the 1994 World Cup then NBA MVP Nigerian-born Hakeem Olajuwon wasn’t eligible to play for the”Dream II”. Olajuwon was a part of “Dream Team III” that won the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games.
All other MVPs since then either decided to skip the tournament or their country’s national team hadn’t qualified to the tournament. Like 2006 MVP Steve Nash’s Canada in the same year’s World Cup.
Kevin Durant would’ve become the first MVP to play in the World Cup in 2014 but withdrew due to fatigue.
Giannis will play his fourth summer tournament with the squad. He debuted in the 2014 World Cup and then played in the 2015 EuroBasket and the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers.
If Giannis Antetokounmpo ends up playing with Greece, it will be the first time a reigning NBA MVP takes part in the World Cup. Never happened in the previous 18 editions of the tournament.
So there's that. pic.twitter.com/5pIBZaVndy
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 23, 2019