By Derek Gatopoulos, Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo has agreed to fund the construction of an indoor basketball court in a fire-ravaged area outside Athens where at least 100 people were killed last year.
The mayor of the Rafina area where the fire occurred last July said on Monday the local authority received the offer from the Milwaukee Bucks player to build the court at a new recycling park that is being planned in the area. The mayor, Vangelis Bournous, gave no details of the construction cost but said the venue would be ready at the end of this summer.
The blaze gutted the seaside resort of Mati, east of Athens, and other coastal areas, destroying more than a thousand homes.
“Antetokounmpo, the well-known Giannis Antetokounmpo, has made a donation at the site to build an indoor court — I’m announcing this for the first time,” Bournous said at a campaign event ahead of local elections on Sunday.
“It will be built with a modern method using a steel building frame so it can be ready by the end of the summer.”
Antetokounmpo’s Bucks are leading in the NBA Eastern Conference finals 2-1 over the Toronto Raptors.
The forward, the son of immigrants from Nigeria, was born and grew up in Athens and moved to the United States in 2013 to join the Bucks. He has a huge following in his home country, with fans following his games in the middle of the night.
Antetokounmpo maintains close ties with Greece and has taken part in campaigns to promote a Greek airline and tourism, as well as recycling. His older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, lives in Athens and plays for local club Panathinaikos, coached by Rick Pitino, formerly of the Boston Celtics and the Louisville Cardinals.