Giorgos Kalaitzakis was sleeping when he was selected in the NBA draft

2022-06-19T16:17:40+00:00 2022-06-19T16:22:09+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

19/Jun/22 16:17

Plenty of stories from the NBA draft to playing in the NBA shared by Greek small forward Giorgos Kalaitzakis

By Euaggelos Papadimitriou/

Taking a break from the individual training program at Eurohoops Dome, Giorgos Kalaitzakis talked to Eurohoops about wanting to stay in the NBA and picked out some experiences so far in his career. Actually making it to the NBA and being selected with the last pick of the 2021 draft, is a story in itself.

Kalaitzakis, 23, has been working out in the state-of-the-art Eurohoops Dome facilities under Lefteris Kalogirou, Eurohoops Academy’s Head Of Development. Staying in shape and looking to get another contract in the NBA after logging 13 games played between the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder in 2021-22.

“That was my childhood dream, the biggest one. I put in the effort and made it. However, I haven’t done anything yet. I am at 40% or 50%,” he opened the interview by talking about making the NBA and described the current level of his achievements, “I have to get better and keep chasing it. I want to be a good player for a team in the NBA.”

The Greek forward was selected by the Indiana Pacers and traded to the Bucks on draft night. Keep in mind that it was pretty late in Greece.

“I knew I was going to end up with the Bucks,” he recalled and talked about how he spent the evening on July 29, 2021, “During the draft, I got up and went to the bathroom, saw I wasn’t selected in the first round and went back to bed. Finally, my father woke me up to tell me about my selection.”

He was already in contact with Giannis Antetokounmpo. After leading the Bucks to the 2021 NBA championship, the Greek Freak was on the task of prepping him to play in Milwaukee. From there, Kalaitzakis become his newest fan.

“I haven’t ever seen a player like him,” Kalaitzakis told Eurohoops, “Everybody talks about how hard he works but can’t really grasp the reality until living it for themselves. Everybody talks about the Kobe [Mamba] mentality but by the time Giannis retires there will be the Giannis mentality. He works more than everyone else and is more serious as well.”

In his NBA debut, the Bucks faced the Brooklyn Nets. His childhood idol Kevin Durant was the opposite end.

“I will never forget this day,” he explained, “We were playing Brooklyn and because I grew up watching [Kevin] Durant, he is the reason I decided to play basketball. I remember warming up and him moving nearby. During the game, every single moment flashed before my eyes. That night, my family was waiting for me back home and I shared my experience and I almost cried. I did not sleep at all that night.”

Moving to Bucks teammate Jrue Holiday makes out another unique experience for the Kalaitzakis.

[Jrue] Holiday had lent me his Lamborghini, 250K,” he said, “We were in the parking lot. I really like cars and he gave me the keys. He said ‘it’s yours’. I went for a stroll. He had simply given me the car. Even if I did some kind of damage, I don’t think he would ask me to pay for it.”

Coming out of Aris, Kalaitzakis turned pro with Panathinaikos and worked his way up to the NBA playing for the Greens until the 2020-21 season. He was loaned to Lithuania outlet Nevezis in 2019-20.