MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WFRV) – As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare to host 65,000 fans outside of the Fiserv Forum for game six of the NBA Finals, one Giannis Antetokounmpo superfan traveled to Milwaukee to watch a home town hero make history.
John Hartofilis is a Greek-American who lives in New York. When the Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo in 2013 with the 15th pick, Hartofilis instantly followed the Bucks and of course Giannis who’s the talk Greece.
“It was a huge thing to see a guy who was Greek in the NBA as a lottery pick”, says Hartofilis. “It’s different to see a guy come from nothing and be successful in the NBA.”
Hartofilis tells Local 5 that he loves how Giannis plays basketball, but it’s the off-court stuff that makes him so unique.
“What he does family wise and how he’s family oriented, what’s not to love about him?”, says Hartofilis.
In 8 years, Giannis has turned himself into a superstar not only in Milwaukee but in the NBA. As Giannis cements himself as the heart of Milwaukee sports, his legacy in Greece is unmatched.
“When I was younger, I mentioned the fact that I liked basketball and my uncles would say ‘oh, Michael Jordan!’. That was it. That was the extent of what they knew of basketball. Now everyone knows who Giannis is. He’s on the news. It’ll be a regular season game and it’s all over the newspapers”, says Hartofilis. “My grandparents who knew nothing about basketball at all, now ask me ‘how’s he doing?’, ‘is he injured?’, ‘is he okay?’.
The love for the ‘Greek Freak’ has grown into a movement in his home country.
“Everyone in Greece follows him under a microscope because everyone loves him. He’s one of us. He’s our own”, Hartofilis explains.
When the Bucks punched their ticket to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974, getting to experience a home town hero make history for Hartofilis was a no brainer.
“I was always trying to find when a good time to go to Milwaukee and catch a game. We kept almost doing it, doing it, doing it. We caught every single game in the Nets series, that was great. When the Finals started happening and game three and four started happening, it was kind of an easy sell to my friends”, says Hartofilis.
So the decision was made. Hartofilis booked a plane ticket, a hotel, and bought a ticket to game six of the NBA Finals in Milwaukee.
“It was a lot, but it’s a once in a life time thing so how could you not?”, says Hartofili.
To be in Milwaukee after seeing the Deer District going crazy during the broadcasts is surreal.
“Milwaukee is a great place. It’s actually a really nice city. It’s a great vibe. So many great places to go and eat. The people have been so nice”, says Hartofilis.