Milwaukee Greeks Rally Behind Bucks' Antetokounmpo

Created: May 14, 2019 05:22 PM

The Bucks’ NBA playoff run has Milwaukee buzzing with anticipation that the team could win its first title since 1971. Particularly interested is the Greek community, which has rallied around star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was born in Greece.

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The team hasn't gotten this far in the playoffs since 2001 and they haven't won the NBA championship since 1971. Fans say it's long overdue.

"You have some losing seasons and you get a little discouraged but you keep going to the games. And now that they're doing so good it just, you know, you really feel the energy. You feel the positive, you know, excitement that's going around," said fan Lou Liapis.

It's particularly sweet for the tight knit Greek community in southeastern Wisconsin -– population around 10,000.

One of the biggest stars on the team and in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was born in Greece and wears his Greek pride on his sleeve.

"We feel so lucky to have him here because he's immigrated here like a lot of our parents and has that drive and dedication to become a success. And that's something that's, you know, kind of one big attribute in the greek community," Liapsis said.

Fans call him the Greek Freak.

Every year the team hosts a "Greek night" and the 6'11" power forward makes a point of singing the Greek national anthem.

"To be able to participate in that with Goiannis and him leading us again gives you a great deal of pride because we're all familiar with the Greek national anthem as we are the star spangled banner," said Tim Stasinoulias of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.

That pride spills over a sandwich named after Antetokounmpo at Georgie Peorgie's. The restaurant created the "gyro step" - it has a burger patty, gyro meat, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.

"People love it. They love what's going on in the community," said Liapsis, who co-owns the restaurant.

For life-long fan Steve Itsines, his connection to the team recently got a lot deeper.

His son Demetrios was hit by a car and killed last November. The 26-year-old played basketball in tournaments and was a huge fan of the greek freak.  

"I'm so happy that you know that we have something, something to hold on to right now. You know, no question has helped these last few months the fact that you know the Bucks are our good team. You know, if they weren't, I know that there would be more sadness in our life," Itsines said.

A player, and team, bringing an already tight knit community closer.



Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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