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"That's even more of an incredible feeling for me" - Giannis Antetokounmpo gives Dirk Nowitzki props for showing the way to European players

Giannis Antetokounmpo is introduced as a member of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team
Giannis Antetokounmpo is introduced as a member of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team

Following a win playing for Team LeBron at the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a lot to share while also discussing his selection to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.

While Giannis is the youngest player on the list, he is also one of the very few international players among the ranks of the 75 greatest NBA players. Finding himself alongside fellow European athlete Dirk Nowitzki, the 27-year old shared his sentiments on sitting next to the Dallas Mavericks legend.

"There were only two Europeans on this (75th) team right? That’s insane. Sitting next to Michael Jordan.. that’s great. Lebron, Carmelo, John Stockton, Ray Allen... But having the opportunity to sit next to Dirk who kinda opened the path for us, that’s even more of an incredible feeling for me.
"I watched him play when I was a kid. When he was winning a championship for the Dallas Mavericks. He was one of us, he came from Europe. That's incredible. Hopefully Luka, Jokic, more European players can follow Dirk's lead and my lead. Hopefully more African players can follow Hakeem's lead and... in 25 years we're going to do it again. There's going to be more people on the group."
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “There were only two Europeans on this (75th) team right? That’s insane. Sitting next to Michael Jordan.. that’s great. Lebron James.. but having the opportunity next to Dirk who opened the path for us. That’s even more of an incredible feeling for me.” https://t.co/plLE2ySsy0

Dirk Nowitzki was one of the premier European athletes of his generation. Playing an influential role in promoting the influx of talent from Europe to the NBA, modern day stars such as Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic find themselves enjoying the benefits of his contributions.

Giannis Antetokounmpo also represented Africa while discussing Dirk's influence on the sport. Being of Nigerian origin himself, Giannis credited Hakeem Olajuwon as the torch-bearer for African basketball players.


Giannis Antetokounmpo's influence on the international scale

Giannis Antetokounmpo ahead of a Milwaukee Bucks' game
Giannis Antetokounmpo ahead of a Milwaukee Bucks' game

The game of basketball has long been dominated by the United States of America. Considering the advent and development of the NBA happening in the States, the influx of international players was a relatively recent event.

However, as things stand, the league's finest feature a large body of international players among their ranks. Names such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are commonplace when talking about the best in the game.

The 2021-2022 NBA Season has been LEGENDARY so far. Is this the most skilled the NBA has ever been?Nikola Jokic26/14/8 on 65.3% TSGiannis Antetokounmpo29/11/6 on 63% TSJoel Embiid29/11/5 on 61% TSLuka Doncic28/9/9 on 55.4% TS https://t.co/LAtofd5lkK

In this regard, past players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol have been extremely influential. However, players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic are representatives of the potential international players possess.

Dominating on basketball's biggest stage, the likes of Jokic and Antetokounmpo have been the NBA's MVP winners over the last three seasons. With the current narrative seeing a majority of international players in the race for the MVP award, Antetokounmpo is a bigger influence on the international scale as he won the NBA Championship and the Finals MVP awards.

As his Milwaukee Bucks gear up to repeat their success from the previous season, Antetokounmpo will attempt to continue his dominant performance. The Bucks will resume regular-season action against the Brooklyn Nets on February 26th.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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