Why Giannis Antetokounmpo Chose the Path of Most Resistance

On his home’s second floor, Giannis keeps a room full of unworn shoes. A literal room, filled to the literal top, in a house with only a normal abundance of rooms. “How many of these shoes do you think I wear?” Giannis asked me, mischievously, and then answered his own question: “I don’t wear them.”

There’s every Jordan known to man here, and shoes that Virgil wrote on. Travis Scott Nikes. Kobes. Giannis is sponsored by Nike, so this isn’t surprising, but the fact that he doesn’t wear the shoes is a little surprising, and the fact that he is keeping them is more surprising. More surprising still: “I’m going to sell this shit,” he said, with a grin. That’s why he’s devoted an entire room of his own living space to them. Not to wear them but to keep them as an investment.

Mariah’s father makes jokes about Giannis. “You know when the birds go in the morning?” Giannis said, quoting the joke. “ ‘Cheep, cheep’—cheap. That’s who I am.” On airplanes, he used to buy coach tickets and would seek out whoever was sitting in the exit row and ask them to switch: “ ‘You’re a Bucks fan?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Want two tickets for the game? When? November?’—I’m a great seller, that’s what you don’t know. I’m a great seller—‘Would you trade my seat with you?’ ”

I said that if Giannis Antetokounmpo approached me to switch seats on a commercial flight, I’d probably be surprised that he wasn’t on a private jet.

“Nobody has money for a private jet, man. Hell no, man.”

Not even to Greece?

“Why would you spend $150,000 to one-way trip there? That’s $300,000. The market makes 6 to 10 percent every year… He’s laughing.”

(I was laughing.)

“So, you can make, for the rest of your life, with that money you just spent, 24- to 30,000 a year, because that’s what the market makes on average. If you take that money and you take it away, that 24- to 30,000 growth every year goes away—correct? So why would I teach my kids that?”

Giannis drives a 2011 GMC truck he bought not long after he got here, or a Mercedes he bought in 2018, or the G-Wagon he got for free. “I don’t put my money in my stuff that loses value,” he said. Meals, sure. He and Mariah go out and eat well. “But ain’t nobody got time for spending money on clothes and time for…what’s it called?”

A stylist?

“Fuck—sorry. Eff no. Man, let me tell you one thing. This is me. If you try to spend time on how you’re going to look to the tunnel, man, you already took away focus from the game. Just put on some stuff and just focus on that 48 minutes. Not how I’m going to look in the tunnel when they show me. Now, if you’re talking about one thing I enjoy, I love watches.”

Why? Because they increase in value. He named a few, and then asked that I not say which ones. He is trying to give less free promo, now that he’s a champion: If you want your product to be mentioned by Giannis, from now on you’re going to have to pay. As we talked, he’d be deep into some anecdote and then wonder if he was supposed to promote his businesses, the sponsorships he’s already acquired, the investments—like the piece of the Milwaukee Brewers he just bought this week—he’s already made. Is he supposed to promote his businesses? How does one do that in an interview? He was unsure. He settled for leaning into my recorder, listing his endorsements, then going back to whatever story he was telling.

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