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Volume 26 No. 209
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Agent Alex Saratsis On Capitalizing On Antetokounmpo's Rise

Saratsis said Antetokounmpo stayed with Nike because their pitch was the simplest and most appealing
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Saratsis said Antetokounmpo stayed with Nike because their pitch was the simplest and most appealing
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Saratsis said Antetokounmpo stayed with Nike because their pitch was the simplest and most appealing
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown

Octagon Basketball agent Alex Saratsis sat down for a Q&A on Day 1 of the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium to talk about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s signature Nike shoe and how the Bucks’ superstar is handling the onslaught of marketing opportunities. Saratsis called the June launch of the Nike Air Zoom Freak 1, which coincided with Antetokounmpo winning his first NBA MVP award, a “perfect storm,” as the shoe was 18 months in the making. Antetokounmpo was in Greece for the launch and then began a U.S. tour that culminated with a MVP celebration in Milwaukee. Saratsis, who works with Octagon, credited Nike with their attention to detail throughout the process. “Nike has this down to a science,” he said. The brand signed Antetokounmpo for the bargain price of $5,000 per year before he was drafted in ’13. After the four-year deal, he decided to remain with Nike and become the company’s first international signature athlete. Saratsis said Nike’s pitch was the simplest and, in the end, the most appealing.

PERFECT MATCH: So how did Saratsis end up representing the Greek Freak? Saratsis, who is also Greek, was told about Antetokounmpo in ’12, but was skeptical of the hype of a not-yet-developed player. But NBA scouts kept mentioning the young phenom to him and he eventually went to Greece to meet Antetokounmpo. “Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good,” Saratsis said. “I was Greek, my partner was Greek. He happened upon him. And then it just so happened that when he showed up, my partner said, ‘Hey, this is your agent.’ And when I started speaking Greek to him, he was floored.”

BEST OF THE REST:

  • On Antetokounmpo growing his brand in Milwaukee: “He's one of the few people in the NBA now that has truly outgrown his market.”

  • On his relationship with Antetokounmpo: “As an agent, I don't think you're supposed to be an evaluator of talent. Giannis and I never ever speak about basketball. What am I going to tell him that he doesn't already know?”

  • On Greek yogurt companies proposing deals for Antetokounmpo: “That’s too easy. We want to do something that's a little bit more complex, a little bit more thought-provoking than ‘he's Greek and there's Greek yogurt.’”

  • On the NBA-China situation: “One of the things that this has shown is how much the game of basketball has grown and how global it has become. This is front page news and I think there's a lot of leagues that would like to have that problem.”