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In case you missed it, I decided that I'm kind of down to dive more into the NBA. I do actually love the NBA, but I usually don't start watching until the postseason or there are playoff implications worth tuning in for. Is there anything better than playoff basketball? Honestly, no. As a die-hard football fan, I think the NBA's postseason product is just as, if not more, enticing than the NFL's.
The thing I'm missing is the emotional connection with the sport. I want to find that emotional connection. I know which NFL players I like because they're fun and goofy human beings (Jamaal Williams is my spirit animal). I know which players I don't (I'll just leave this here).
I've done a lot of creeping on social media. After all, you are what you eat and post on social media; it's a window to the inside of your soul, really. With that creeping, I came to the conclusion that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the player I'm here to root for.
Tina Voutsela of Olympics.com put together a really beautiful story on Antetekounmpo's rise to NBA stardom. It starts with his emigration from Nigeria to Greece and navigating the challenges of poverty on through his choice to start playing basketball (though it wasn't his first love) only after his coach baited him with the fact that if he played, "He could maybe make some money to buy food."
Fast forward to the 2020-21 season, where Giannis helped lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA Championship since the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar era, and earned his first-ever NBA Finals MVP award. What. A. Story.
This is the first moment I knew I just *liked* this man. Why am I crying right now???
What a smile!!! What a set of chompers! It's arguably one of the most infectious smiles I've ever seen. It's genuine. I like genuine.
Here he is playing with a toy dinosaur during a timeout.
His relationship with Oreos is also very special, which is very relatable.
This resonates with me because although I am a woman without children, and thereby not a dad, I also love and frequently tell dad jokes.
Sorry, I got nothing
He takes too long to shoot free throws. Honestly, if this were me, I'd 100% continue to lean into that narrative in an obnoxious fashion, though. Don't let them change you, Giannis.
I dare you to bet against that beautiful, towering Keeping Up With The Kardashians fan. You can't. I'm betting on Giannis for all of the reasons above plus the fact that he's so freaking good at basketball. He ranks top five among NBA players in points (31.8) and rebounds (12.2) per game. He's a two-time NBA MVP. He's a seven-time NBA All-Star. He's easy to root for.
A $10 bet could win you $160 dollars and a smile ALMOST just as beautiful as that of Mr. Antetekounmpo. I'm all in.