It’s self-evident that Milwaukee loves its Greek Freak. From the deafening cheers that ring out when he’s introduced before a Bucks game and the "MVP!" chants that reverberate around the BMO Harris Bradley Center as he finishes off a highlight-reel dunk, to the online exuberance about his rise to greatness and gleefulness after he expressed his affection for our humble city last month. We love Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And next Wednesday, local designer Too Much Metal will honor Antetokounmpo, the Athens-born Bucks superstar, by giving out special-edition "Greece Lightning" T-shirts to the entire Clutch Crew – the team’s raucous fan section – for that night's game against the Pistons. Too Much Metal owner Fred Gillich said he’s donating 82 shirts for the Clutch Crew – plus one more (presumably XXXL) for Giannis – as a token of generosity, a tribute to the Bucks and their fans and to celebrate Antetokounmpo's 23rd birthday Dec. 6.
"It’s my way of giving back to the Bucks, the city, the fan section and my favorite ball player," Gillich said Thursday. "I’ve met a lot of real Milwaukeeans that care about our team and our city. The level of excitement the fan section brings to the game is so electric that it changes the vibe of the arena in a flash.
"This is how we build community and make friends. This is the Milwaukee way. We take care of each other."
The Clutch Crew is the high-energy, often renamed fan section – originally called Squad Six, previously the Cream City Clash and now sponsored by Harley-Davidson – that sits (stands) behind the basket on the visitors’ bench side, cheering, chanting and creating a lively atmosphere at Bucks home games. Benny Fink, the leader of the Clutch Crew, likes the shirts and is eager for the group to wear them next Wednesday.
"The shirts are a great symbol of Giannis as a player and a person," Fink said. "He’s lightning on the court, and the colors and design pay respect to his culture."
The unisex, 100-percent vintage soft cotton t-shirts are blue, displaying in white the words "Greece Lightning" and a couple lightning bolts, with the Greek flag and "Milwaukee" adjoined underneath. On Too Much Metal’s website, the product description is an exalting testament to Giannis worship: "Like a clap of thunder producing the most amazing light, we Milwaukeeans are proud of our basketball team and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo's god-like play."
This isn’t the first time Gillich and Too Much Metal have been involved with the Bucks. For the last four years, they’ve been one of the local T-shirt designers featured in the team’s Milwaukee Originals series. This season, Too Much Metal has the final Milwaukee Mondays date – on April 9 against the Magic, which is also the Bucks’ last regular-season game and fan appreciation day – with a new edition from the company’s classic 414 line. Gillich also donated an enormous 414 flag to the fan section two years ago.
Following the Dec. 6 game, the Greece Lightning shirts will be available to purchase online and at Too Much Metal’s retail store, 207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 318.
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.