The idea of hosting an NBA game in Greece might soon be a reality. NBA commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the idea of hosting a pre-season game of the Bucks in Greece is on the table despite logistic difficulties. Greek NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo also stated that it is something he had thought about.
The NBA commissioner spoke on Cosmote TV’s show ”Pick n’ Roll” and talked about Giannis Antetokounmpo and the possibility of hosting preseason and regular season matches in Greece. Silver acknowledged that the world’s top league is working in that direction.
Hosting an NBA game in Greece important for Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Milwaukee Bucks were recently in Abu Dhabi to face the Atlanta Hawks in two preseason games. During his visit, the NBA commissioner mentioned how important it was for Giannis to bring the NBA games to Greece, despite the difficulties of such an idea:
“We would love to figure that out. I know how important this is to Giannis personally. In fact, I saw his mother last night as well and it’s also important to her. So we are going to try and make it work. You know that it’s not easy to move these pre-season games overseas but we know how important it is not only to Giannis but to all our incredible fans in Greece. So we keep working on it.”
In addition, Silver confirmed that there have been discussions around the idea of hosting NBA games in Greece for some time now. Due to COVID-19 however, they were put on hold.
“Now that people seem to be back to normal, it’s something that we can focus on again. The benefit of doing a preseason or friendly game is that it allows the players to spend more time in the market. I know that’s important to Giannis,” he stressed.
The NBA commissioner highlighted that the league is looking at all possible scenarios, but only in the case of a preseason contest.
“Players can come with their families, enjoy the sights, and have a better sense of the country and the city. For a regular season game, we just have to come in, practice, sleep, play, and leave. So we’re looking at both scenarios,” he explained.
Giannis wants to play with the Bucks in Greece
For his part, Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke about the NBA’s worldwide expansion. Out of all the places he would like to play, the basketball star emphasized his adopted homeland, mainly for its peculiarity.
“I’ve never played in China, Shanghai, or Beijing,” he said. “It would be a fun experience. Maybe in India too. The more you expand the game, the more you make it global and reach places for the first time. I feel like many people around the world love basketball, we just have to introduce it. That way, we’ll create more fans.”
The ”Greek Freak” stressed that hosting a preseason outing in Greece would be special for him. As a local, he’d be doing a lot of things apart from playing.
“I have played in Greece, not with an NBA team. I feel that if that happened, then the game will be the last thing that would concern me. The gym would be full of 20.000 Greek fans chanting my name, and instead of it being a nice experience for me, I’d be roaming left and right doing so many things,” he explained.
“I’ve had that experience before, and I’ve thought about it. If we had the chance to play in Athens, in Thessaloniki, or some other city, in Crete maybe, that would be a nice experience.”
The 2021 NBA champion is among the most celebrated players, both in the US and internationally. His compelling life story was also recently made into a Walt Disney Studios’ biographical sports-drama, called ”Rise’’. The movie tracks the life of Antetokounmpo and his family from Nigeria to Greece and then superstardom. Antetokounmpo served as executive producer alongside Douglas S. Jones as well.
Antetokounmpo was born to Nigerian immigrants who illegally immigrated to Athens in 1994. He grew up in the city, but did not receive his Greek citizenship until he turned eighteen, but often speaks about his love for his country. More recently, the NBA star joined the Greek national team for EuroBasket 2022, where he was voted one of the top 5 players.