Giannis Antetokounmpo, the child of immigrants from Nigeria who was selling small items at the traffic lights in Athens to help his family, never ceases to amaze.
The Milwaukee Bucks superstar was faced with a big dilemma: to sign or not to sign a contract with his current team worth 228 million dollars, until the end of the 2025-26 season.
As stunning as a contract like that sounds, the sky would have been the limit if he had not accepted his team’s offer and he became an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The time to decide was shrinking rapidly – he had until December 21 – but he did not want to wait until the last minute. Giannis chose to stay with his team. He accepted the 228 million dollar offer.
After wrapping things up, he told his fans: "This is my home, this is my city," Antetokounmpo posted on Twitter and Instagram. "I'm blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let's make these years count. The show goes on, let's get it."
There is another element here – the Bucks have shown him the money, but can they win it all? A star of his stature needs a championship, not more MVPs, to secure his legacy as one of the greatest players in NBA history – but we must believe he sincerely wants to help his team reach the promised land and is not only looking out for himself.
Gianni is a modest man – only 26 years old – but very mature for his age.
He is a man who did not forget his origins, he did not forget where he came from.
He always expresses his love for his birthplace, Greece.
Giannis was lucky that a representative of the Bucks, who was looking for basketball talent in Greece, recognized his talent and invited him to play for the team.
But no one gave him anything. What he did, he earned and won with a lot of hard work. And the right philosophy.
In an article in the New York Times, he made the following comments before he made his big decision:
“I’m just focusing on basketball,” he said. “I do what I love. What I love is playing basketball. What I love is improving. What I love is helping my teammates. What I love is winning games. And off the court, about agents and contracts, I’m not focusing on that. Not that I don’t care about it. Obviously I care about it. It’s a very big decision in my life, and probably one of the biggest decisions I’m going to make. But I just let my agent focus on that.”
The key to his success, then, is doing what he loves. That fulfills him. And that's why he does it so well. With great success. Always with hard work.
This is what successful people do. Not necessarily just the financially successful. And this is why they live more fulfilled lives.
I hope Giannis, one day, when he has a little more time, will write a book titled: “From the Traffic Lights of Athens to the Top of the NBA – The 5 Principles that Will Help You Reach the Top and Live a Happier Life.”
It would undoubtedly be a best-seller. And he can give the proceeds to poor children. Like the one he used to be.