The Bucks’ derisory drought of more than a decade without an All-Star has finally come to an end, and in spectacular, freaky fashion.
And Giannis Antetokounmpo, the playmaking Greek Freak, Milwaukee’s 22-year-old do-everything prodigy, wasn’t just named an All-Star but a full-fledged Eastern Conference starter for the 2017 game, the NBA announced Thursday night. Antetokounmpo becomes the Bucks’ first All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004 and the franchise’s first starter since Sidney Moncrief in 1986. He’ll be the youngest player in franchise history to start an All-Star Game when he takes the floor at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Feb. 19.
Antetokounmpo is having a career year – he’s the only player in the league that leads his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals – and his on-court play was clearly recognized and resoundingly rewarded by NBA fans, players and media. The popular fourth-year forward from Greece finished second among Eastern Conference players in media and player voting, receiving 93 media votes and 162 player votes, and was third in fan voting with 1,604,463 votes.
"This is a great honor for Giannis and a testament to his work ethic and commitment to his craft," Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said in a statement. "I know Giannis will cherish this opportunity to not just showcase his game, but to play alongside and learn from the league's best."
Antetokounmpo is posting career highs in all major offensive categories this season, averaging 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.8 steals per game. He already has nine 30-point games, after having just two in his three previous seasons in the NBA combined, plus 17 double-doubles and two triple-doubles. Antetokounmpo has 15 games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists; only Cleveland superstar LeBron James, with 19, has more such games.
Of course, the statistics and success are augmented by Antetokounmpo’s breathtaking, gravity-defying, highlight-reel big plays, especially his skying blocks and soaring dunks. He’s also performed at his best on the biggest stages, notably a 34-point, 12-rebound, 5-assist game in the Bucks’ blowout home win over the Cavaliers, when Antetokounmpo outdueled James and was the best, baddest dude on the floor that night.
Antetokounmpo is the 18th All-Star in franchise history and the sixth to be named a starter. Overall, his appearance will be the 40th by a Bucks player in the history of the NBA All-Star Game, and the 11th time a Buck has been in the starting lineup. Abdul-Jabbar leads the Bucks in both All-Star appearances (6) and starts (4).
Joining Antetokounmpo as Eastern Conference frontcourt starters are Cleveland’s James and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, as well as Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving in the backcourt. The Western Conference’s starters will be Houston’s James Harden, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. The East and West All-Star reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 26.
According to a Bucks press release, to celebrate Antetokounmpo’s first All-Star appearance, the team is offering an exclusive ticket package available from now until the team’s final home game before the All-Star break on Feb. 13. Fans can get a ticket to any of Milwaukee’s six remaining home games before the break, plus an official adidas Giannis Antetokounmpo All-Star T-shirt, for $34 (a savings of as much as $40). The "Giannis All-Star packages" can be purchased at bucks.com/giannis.
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.