The drought is over.
For the first time since 2004, the Milwaukee Bucks have an all-star.
For the first time since 1986, a Bucks player will start in the NBA's jewel in-season event, which will be held Feb. 19 in New Orleans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo broke through on Thursday night, when he was named an Eastern Conference starter. Now, we won't need to remember Michael Redd (2004 reserve) and Sidney Moncrief (1986 starter) as the answer to trivia questions. Giannis, who leads Milwaukee in almost every statistical category (23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.8 steals per game), has broken through.
It's safe to say that the NBA All-Star Game will draw a higher rating in Milwaukee and Wisconsin this year than in many, many years. It's a breakthrough and it should -- and will -- be celebrated.
But, I wonder... is another breakthrough coming?
Bucks fans and NBA highlight junkies already know about Giannis. More casual fans across the globe are about to meet him for the first time, and they are in for a treat. In addition to being freakishly talented, Giannis possesses attributes that will make marketers' mouths water. He is young. He has a unique name. He has a million-watt smile. He has an incredible back story (selling sunglasses and trinkets on the streets of Greece). And, perhaps most important, it looks like he's going to be a highly-performing NBA player for a loooooooong time.
I have to believe that he is going to become a marketing tour de force. I don't know what companies he'll align with (Oikos Greek yogurt, anyone?), but I expect to see him on national commercials soon. That's an exciting development in Milwaukee, where we are used to seeing Packers players -- particularly Aaron Rodgers -- in campaigns but heroes who play closer to home have remained under the radar.
The Bucks have done a fine job marketing Giannis to this point and should be commended for their efforts to get him in the all-star game. Now, he's ready for a bigger stage. While thousands of kids in gyms across the state daydream about being Giannis, I wonder what it would be like to be his agent.