Everybody loves Giannis Antetokounmpo. Especially his NBA peers and basketball media, apparently, and now he's a two-time All-Star.
For the second straight season, Antetokounmpo has been selected as a starter for the NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday evening, with the popular Milwaukee Bucks forward receiving the most player votes and tied for the most media votes. Antetokounmpo was second overall in fan voting with 2,530,211 ballots, finishing just behind Cleveland’s LeBron James (2,638,294), who was named a captain and will get to pick his team’s roster.
Antetokounmpo, who last year was also voted in as a starter and became the Bucks’ first All-Star since 2004, has continued his rapid ascendance in his fifth season and become one of the NBA’s best players. The Greek Freak is second in the league in scoring at 28.2 points per game, while averaging career-highs in rebounds (10.1) and field-goal percentage (54.6).
"This is another great honor for Giannis as we continue to see his progression toward becoming one of the stars of this league," Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said in a statement. "Being an All-Star Game starter in two straight seasons is a testament to Giannis’ work ethic and constant devotion to perfecting his craft. We look forward to seeing him once again play alongside and learn from the NBA’s best."
Antetokounmpo is one of only five players in this year averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, and he’s on pace to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Bucks in team history to average at least 28.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists for a season. Antetokounmpo is the first Milwaukee player since Marques Johnson (1979-80) to be named a starter in two straight All-Star Games.
Antetokounmpo, who at 23 drops the jaws of and draws incredulity from everyone around the NBA on a nightly basis with his rare athleticism, refined skills and highlight-reel plays, is also well-liked in the league for his charismatic personality and renowned work ethic. For a popularity contest like the All-Star Game, it speaks to Antetokounmpo’s admiration that he got the most votes from players (226) and tied for the most from media (99). Fans comprised 50 percent of the vote, and the players and press accounted for 25 percent each.
Under the new All-Star Game format, which replaces the traditional matchup between the Eastern and Western Conferences, the vote-winners from each conference – this year James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry – get to choose their team rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. Along with Antetokounmpo, James and Curry, the other All-Star Game starters are DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
The Bucks had made a strong push to have Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe voted in to the All-Star Game. Middleton finished 10th in player voting and 12th in fan voting among frontcourt players; Bledsoe was 10th and 12th, respectively, for backcourt players. Bucks forward Jabari Parker, who hasn’t played a minute yet this season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last year, received one player vote.
The 67th NBA All-Star Game takes place on Sunday, Feb. 18, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
The Bucks announced on Thursday that, to celebrate Antetokounmpo being named an All-Star starter for the second year in a row, they are offering fans a special "2 for $34" ticket package. For $34, fans can get tickets to their choice of two upcoming Milwaukee home games this month on Jan. 22 vs. Phoenix, Jan. 26 vs. Brooklyn or Jan. 29 vs. Philadelphia. For more information on the ticket offer, visit bucks.com/allstaroffer.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.