Bucks' Giannis Says He Likes 'Greek Freak' Nickname, Isn't Sure Where It Started

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 21, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, knocks down Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 6, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo understands why his Greek Freak moniker became popular, and he loves it just as much as his fans, the 25-year-old just has no clue when or where it started.

"I don't remember the first time I heard about it—it was probably my rookie year—but I really don't know who came up with it," Antetokounmpo told ESPN Radio Wisconsin on Thursday. "I just went on the court one day and I had like a crazy dunk or a crazy block and after that everyone started calling me the Greek Freak. So it stuck by me—I love it and it's a cool nickname."

That doesn't mean Antetokounmpo lived up to the name right away. In his first year in the league, the 6'9", 215-pound forward averaged just 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 24.6 minutes per game. He received just one vote for Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie second team. 

Five years later, Antetokounmpo, now standing 6'11" and 242 pounds, is among the best basketball players in the world, averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. The nickname has stuck with him throughout his rise, but the Athens, Greece, native is careful not to confuse the label with his lifestyle.

"The most important thing is you cannot lose yourself in it. There's a lot of pressure, there's a lot of things that are going to try to pull you from 'come this way, do this.' For example, this event with Nike, or tomorrow you've got to do this event with T-Mobile. Like, there's so many things that you're going to have in front of you that you've got to do, but you've just got to be able to balance your personal life with the Greek Freak life. Giannis and the Greek Freak are two different people.

"I hope that doesn't sound arrogant -- I'm not trying to sound arrogant -- but that's how I'm trying to think. I'm trying to think when I'm with my family, I'm with my family. Sometimes when you're the MVP, you're the leader of the team, you've got to do a photo shoot and all that, you lose yourself, and whenever I'm with my family, I'm myself."

As he awaits the return of the NBA, that's exactly what Antetokounmpo is focusing on. The 25-year-old announced the arrival of his first child, Liam, in February and has been able to spend time with his family while the league is on hiatus.