After Tuesday’s win over Minnesota, Timberwolves beat writer Chris Hine tweeted the following about Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns:
“Karl-Anthony Towns said he was really grateful for Giannis reaching out to him as his family was going through COVID tragedies over the last year. Said they became friends and he’s appreciative of how good a person Giannis is.
Giannis said he reached out to Towns because of his experience losing his father. Said he knows how hard it can be to lose someone you’re close with and have to go about doing your job. Said he told KAT: “I love you … and I’ll see you soon.”
It was another example of what makes Giannis just as easy to love off the court as on the court. So, upon seeing this, the staff of WSH figured, why not write about even more?
So, that’s what I am here to do today. This is a look at both the well-known and not so well-known tales of “Good Guy” Giannis.
If you asked NBA fans what they know the most about Giannis off the court, one answer you would get is his upbringing. Many know about how he grew up with very little in Greece, being drafted with very little fanfare. However, those same people may not know just how much his family means to him.
One of the great chronicles of Giannis’ journey to the NBA is Woj Pod’s three-part series on just that. Chronicling his draft process and upbringing, Giannis tells quite a few heartwarming stories. To summarize one, in particular, Giannis was given a major offer from a team in Spain but had more on his mind. He asked if he could bring his family with him, and when he was told no, he lost it. Tearing up the contract in front of the negotiators, the team eventually accepted his condition. Although that move never materialized, it shows a lot about who the Greek Freak is and what he stands for.
Another story in this vein comes from the fantastic “Finding Giannis” mini-documentary from TNT. For one, he committed to not going to the draft unless his brother Thanasis could be there with him. However, once he got to the league, something much more drastic nearly occurred that threatened to derail his career.
See, when Giannis was drafted, neither his mother nor father was in the U.S. with him, and it tore him apart. During the visa process, his parents were denied twice, and a third strike would make it so they could not find their way to the U.S. Knowing this, Giannis told his agent in Greece that he was going back to Greece if his family could not come. Fortunately for all involved, though, his parents were able to make their way to Milwaukee to see their son compete at the highest level.
Superstardom Through Tragedy
A sudden and devastating passing would shake Giannis’ close family, though, in 2017. Charles Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ father, passed away in September of that year at the age of 54. Giannis would not miss any games to start the season, and started out on an absolute tear, averaging 33.7p/10.3r/5.3a over the first 7 games. It was in the season’s third contest, though, that he would have his finest hour of that stretch.
In a home game against the Portland Trailblazers, Giannis would show his future MVP potential with an incredible performance. He would record a (then) career-high of 44 points along with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in a 113-110 victory. This included a final sequence that included a steal, slam, and block by Giannis to seal the victory for Milwaukee. Afterward, former Bucks beat writer Matt Velazquez captured this striking image of a game ball in Giannis’ locker. The inscription simply read:
This is For Daddy
We got a win tonight
and I got 44 points
It was a poignant moment after a star-making performance and one that had to make his father incredibly proud.
Other “Good Guy” Giannis Stories
How about a little more of a lightning round?
Who could forget the time where Giannis hitched a ride from a local couple after he transferred all his money back to his family in Greece and couldn’t afford a cab?
What about when he sold his PS4 to Nick Van Exel because he felt guilty for spending so much on it?
Or when he hugged an 11-year-old girl after she presented him with some of her drawings?
A bit of a personal anecdote here, but I remember Giannis staying a solid hour-plus after his scheduled time, walking through the packed aisles, to sign autograph cards for everyone who came out to a local Pick N’ Save.
It is stories like this that make Bucks fans feel so lucky to have a player, and person like him.
Thank you for being the perfect role model in such a crazy world, Giannis.