Two-time NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, started life wanting to play football and grew up as an Arsenal supporter.

Giannis Antetokounmpo slams over Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams during the 2nd quarter in game 3 of the NBA, Basketball Herren, USA Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. Atlanta USA - Copyright: Curtis Compton
Giannis Antetokounmpo slams over Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams during the 2nd quarter in game 3 of the NBA, Basketball Herren, USA Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. Atlanta USA – Copyright: Curtis Compton

On Tuesday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo helped Milwaukee Bucks complete their comeback to win the NBA finals with a performance that stood miles above his teammates. “Giannis produced a masterpiece against the Phoenix Suns,” declared the Guardian as they went on to note his evening that involved, “Fifty points. Fourteen rebounds. Five (!) blocks. Seventeen-of-19 from the line. Hellacious defence. Violent attacks to the rim. He was everywhere and did everything for his team. As close-out performances go, it ranks among the finest in NBA finals history.”

But it could have all been so different had he followed his first love instead.

“I am really very interested in football,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I was younger I was even an Arsenal supporter. My father played football, I myself played club football from my 9 to 12 years old, then at 12 and a half, I switched to basketball.

“When I grew up in Greece, I wanted to become a football player, that’s what interested me above all.”

Born in Athens at the end of 1994, Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win two MVPs before turning 26.