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The path Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo took to become a ‘sports hero,’ per Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Milwaukee Bucks superstar small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2020, and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t be more proud of the two-time MVP.

Abdul-Jabbar, one of the best players in Bucks franchise history and a civil rights icon, wrote about the path Antetokounmpo has taken to become a “sports hero” for TIME magazine.

“Giannis Antetokounmpo, who just won a second straight NBA MVP award, has all that and more. To watch him play is to see not just what is, but also what is possible. There is some mystical quality that quickens a fan’s heart when they see that person walk onto the court. The true sports hero makes our bones vibrate and flesh ripple in anticipation of witnessing greatness,” the Bucks icon wrote.

“I have no doubt that Giannis will extend the NBA records he holds—he already has the highest single-season Player Efficiency Rating, which combines all of a player’s stats, in NBA history—possibly beyond the reach of future generations. But a sports hero is more than records. Giannis sets an example by standing up for what he believes in. After leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the playoffs, he and his team protested the police shooting of Jacob Blake in their home state by refusing to play, sparking a wave of strikes and postponements throughout the NBA.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo won his second-straight MVP award in 2020. He’s also just the third player in NBA history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.

The Bucks protested the tragic Jacob Blake shooting by refusing to play their postseason game against the Orlando Magic at Walt Disney World on its scheduled date. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was pleased with how Antetokounmpo and his teammates handled the entire situation, which is certainly empowering.

The so-called Greek Freak is eligible to sign the supermax extension with the Bucks this offseason. If he doesn’t, Giannis will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Beyond basketball, though, Giannis has undoubtedly proven that he’s more than just an athlete and a basketball player.