LOS ANGELES – “I sincerely want to thank all these people who come and see me, who support me and the Bucks. Sincerely i am touched each time I see a Greek flag in the stands,” Giannis Antetokounmpo told The National Herald after leading the Bucks to a win over the Los Angeles Lakers 124-122 in overtime at the Staples Center on March 30.
“I do not just do it for myself and my family, I do it for my homeland and for you [the fans] who come and support us. You continue to support the Bucks, to come to more games, and know that I am trying to make you proud,” Giannis added when TNH asked about the support of the Greek- and not Greek- fans who follow every game.
Again in this game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was among the top players for his team with 27 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 assists, with deserving supporters Eric Bledsoe (39 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds) and Khris Middleton (28 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds).
For the Lakers, who made a dynamic comeback in the last quarter (15-29 scoring points) leveled the game by the end of regulation when early on, it looked like they would lose easily, Kyle Kuzma scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds and 6 assists, Brook Lopez (20 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists), Julius Randle (18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists) and Ivica Zubac (16 points, 5 rebounds).
The Greek Freak and the Bucks, as usual, brought many Greeks to the arena to support the efforts of the Greek player, who attracts Greek and non-Greek fans from across the country and the globe.
On March 27, the Greek spectators packed the Staples Center to support Giannis and his team, though they lost to Los Angeles Clippers 105-98. The Bucks beat the NBA champs the Golden State Warriors 116-107 on March 29 with a solid performance by the Greek international.
Greeks from Los Angeles and various cities in California including San Diego, as well as from Las Vegas, Nevada, and even from London, England attended the game on Friday.
Dimitris Demopoulos and George came from Las Vegas to see Giannis Antetokounmpo and support the Bucks. Their roots are from the Peloponnese.
Mr. Demopoulos said, “He is very good this year, in the top 5” and well-known totalking to the Las Vegas Greek community. “All the Greeks know him” and the Americans as well. One of the lucky fans on Friday, Demopoulos got his short autographed by Giannis.
Fotis Daskalakis attended the game with his father and brother. His origins are from Crete. Daskalakis’ friend, Josiah Yousling, said of Giannis, “He is a beast, unstoppable!”
Also at the Staples Center, Demetri Lahanas with his family, his son Dean and his wife Lena, from San Diego also to support Giannis. Mr. Lahanas’ roots are from Nea Koroni and his wife’s from Kiourka.
While TNH spoke in Greek with Thanasis Papoulias, whom we met at Tuesday’s Bucks game with the Clippers, we heard another Greek greeting us.
It was Tom Kousoulas, who said that he came to see Giannis with his family he came to see Giannis. Son Nicolas celebrated his birthday at the game, cheering for the Greek Freak. Mr. Kousoulas also spoke about TNH as he had seen the video of Antetokounmpo signing autographs on TNH’s website on Tuesday, and also enjoyed the commentary by TNH’s Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris, which he receives via email.
“We will definitely try to be at all of Giannis’ games in Los Angeles,” he said, adding that he is a “modern Greek hero, of whom we are proud.”
Panagiotis Piperopoulos was at the game with Iliana Dimoni. They are both originally from Thessaloniki, but live and work in London and, as they say, came to Los Angeles for Giannis.
“We love him, we support him, we hope he will give us an autograph.” Mr. Piperopoulos praised the Greek player’s performance and, in response to TNH’s question, he said that the basketball star is the main topic of discussions. “Of course, yes, yes, we all love Giannis. Greek Freak!”