By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
When Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo arrived almost secretly in Athens – in order to avoid a big crowd due to COVID safety measures – nobody expected that what Giannis tweeted in Greek would end up being true.
“We are coming and bringing the trophy”, wrote Giannis and in the press conference room of the Athens International Airport, the Finals MVP had with him not only the MVP trophy but also the Larry O’Bryant trophy that made for the first time the trip to Europe.
And that may end up being only the start for the Greek Freak who is now addicted to the feeling of being a champion: “I want to relive this. I hope we are going to stay hungry. I like to win. And if we keep our head down, then we will have more moments like these. I can’t explain it, but you get addicted to this feeling, winning the championship title. And that’s the best part of it. No matter what, Thanassis and I want to get better, to play to our limits. I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know if we will win another title. What I know is that tomorrow I will go and practice. Of course, I want to repeat, but no matter what happens, even if we don’t win another one, then that’s God’s plan and I am okay with it. Nobody can take away what already has happened”.
The Antetokounmpos arrival almost coincided with the quarterfinals draw in Tokyo and Giannis once more repeated that he wants to win big also with the Greek national team: “I wish that right now we could be in the Olympics, playing with the national team, having the momentum from winning the NBA title. I really want to win with the national team and do something great in the future. We want to represent our flag the right way and I really want to win something with the national team. That’s my next big wish”.
His brother Thanasis added: “We have a great legacy from the previous generation of the Greek national team and we want to honor it”.
And that seems to bother Giannis more than potentially being the face of the NBA: “I am not the face of the NBA and I don’t want to be. This is something that really doesn’t interest me. I want to play, I want to win and I want to enjoy. I don’t want to be the face of the NBA, I want to be Giannis who works hard. And even if it happens, I want to push it away from me”.
Speaking about him being challenged by the great late Kobe Bryant and also about the almost constant criticism for his game from the US media, Giannis put things into perspective: “If Kobe believed in me, then it’s good enough. I don’t follow the media and social media during the playoffs. And all this criticism is something that doesn’t bother me. I am not good at free throws. You hear it from me, so? I am ok with this, I am secure and I will work to get better. Your criticism is that I don’t make free throws in the NBA finals? That’s a compliment to my ears. I wasn’t supposed to be in the NBA Finals eight years ago when I was leaving Greece. And now, no European player has done what I have already achieved”.