Big thanks to Thodoris Galanos for translating this--a really great look into Giannis Antetokounmpo's mindset as he begins his NBA career. - Frank
I won't bother you with introductions. I just thought people would be interested in Giannis's thoughts and experiences. Here is his second blog article, translated in English by me, in a blog he maintains for Greek sports site Sport24.
It's been some time since my first post in my blog here in NBA Greece. During this time a lot has happened. But I would like to distinguish two moments. Playing against LeBron James and the Miami Heat champions, and against my idol, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City Thunder.
When I arrived in the American Airlines Arena, Heat's stadium, about three hours before the game, all sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. I was wondering how it will be out there when the lights are on and I'm in front of the best basketball player on the planet. Will I be scared? Will I be nervous? These thoughts kept coming and going.
But when the game started, I told myself: Υou are just 18 years old and playing in the NBA. Υou are living the dream. Enjoy it.
And like that I calmed down, stopped thinking who is against me, and I just tried to play as best as I could. It was nice when in some moments I had to guard him. It never crossed my mind that I was in danger of 'getting into his poster'. But even if that happened, I would not be the first nor the last!
It was an amazing experience, the game vs the Heat.
Until of course the next day and the game vs the Thunder. I have said many times that Durant is my idol. He is the player I watch the most. When I came out on the court for a workout, he was already there, shooting. Working. I stopped and watched him. He was deadly serious. I could see it in his face. He was not relaxed. He was warming up with tension. I felt a satisfaction, when I saw my idol, approaching basketball with such determination.
In the span of just two days I found myself against two superstars like LeBron and Durant and I got the biggest lessons. Two of the biggest and most recognizable basketball players, with huge bank accounts, working hard, like they have something to prove, while in reality they have nothing to prove. LeBron is a two-time champion and four-time MVP. They have both played in so many All Star Games. Even so, work never stops. They do not rest in their glory. They are after perfection.
At the same time I saw right in front of my eyes what the combination of talent and hard work can offer to an athlete.
I am never satisfied with myself. I want each day to learn something new. Even though no one expected me even to be here, I am crazy when I don't play. And when I do play I am crazy that I did not get more game time. When the discussion around me started, last spring, at the beginning I said to myself it will be good if I get in the second round of the draft. Then I knew I would be happy with a low pick in the first round. Then, the No. 15 pick came from the Bucks. I wondered if they would keep me or leave me in Zaragoza [the Spanish league team where he would have played this coming season]. When they decided to sign me I was wondering if they would send me to the D-League. And when they decided to keep me I wondered if I would get game time. And when I played, I wanted more. With all that's happened these last months I've come to realize, more and more, that I belong here.
My life in America: I prefer to spend most of the hours with my teammates, because I am bored alone at home. It is nice before, during, and after the workouts. We are having a nice time as a team. I feel part of the Bucks family. They all embraced me and I like that very much. When, finally, I have to go home, then I usually play Playstation. I bought a PS4 just for the 2K14. And of course I'm playing myself, and it's so much fun. Other than that, I go to the movies or for a dinner. Also, I speak every day with my family in Greece, either by phone or Skype. I miss my parents and my brothers, but there is nothing I can do so I am slowly adjusting.
I was very happy when my brother, Thanassis, was drafted by the 87ers and is now playing in the D-League. I met with him in Philadelphia and I am happy he is making the next step in his career. We are only an hour apart by airplane, so when our schedule allows us, we will meet. I am confident about my brother, because in just a few days he managed not only to adjust but also to play well. He was a starter and I am sure he will do amazing.
Here in Milwaukee, and where Thanassis is, is very cold. But I'm used to it now. Like snow. It doesn't surprise me anymore. But it was a terrible temperature difference when we went to play in Miami. We left from a snowy Milwaukee and we found summer in Miami. I liked Miami. Along with Chicago, they are the two most beautiful cities I've visited so far.
It is also incredible that, in every court I've played, up to now, there are always Greeks there to talk to me before or after the game. I see Greek flags and that makes me very proud.
And one last thing. These days I'm finishing my driver's lessons and I will take a driving test for the license. So wish me luck!
Be well and watch the Bucks!