June 27th, 2013.
On that date, late NBA Commissioner David Stern cleared his throat while stepping to the microphone.
He proclaimed the words that changed the Milwaukee Bucks’ organization forever.
“With the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Giannis Antetokounmpo from Athens, Greece.”
Not a bad job on the pronunciation if you ask me.
The words that I summoned in that very moment were much more profane…something to the effect of, “You’ve gotta be bleeping kidding me.”
See, at the time, I was an unpaid intern at a little radio station called WTMJ. My internship director was a guy named Greg Matzek.
I sometimes wonder what he’s up to these days.
Anyway, Greg tasked me that fateful evening in 2013 to cover the draft from the Bucks team headquarters, then located in St. Francis.
My goal was simple: to edit and rename audio clips from that night’s selection to send back for use at the station.
So you could understand my frustration when the Bucks selected a dude who spoke broken English with a last name that looked like it spilled out of a Scrabble bag.
Even worse, there was no way this scrawny kid was going to make it in the NBA. This was a waste of my time.
Little did I know. Little did any of us know.
When the news broke on Tuesday that Giannis was signing his supermax and committing to Milwaukee long-term, that was the memory that immediately came to mind for me.
I’m sure you have a favorite Giannis memory as well…a dunk, a block, a smile, a high-five, a mean-mug, a picture, an autograph.
What makes me most excited about Giannis signing aren’t the prospects on the basketball floor, which are incredibly bright.
I’m most excited that we all get more time to create more memories with Giannis.
Today is a day to celebrate.
Every single one of us in some small part has helped cultivate an environment that Giannis has chosen long-term.
Not just to play basketball. But to raise his family. And to call his home.
For that, as Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites, we should all be immensely proud.
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