Antetokounmpo took up basketball in Greece with his brother Thanasis and are still together now at the Milwaukee Bucks – who have a few players who know what it means to have siblings in the NBA.
“Thanasis and I have been playing on the same team for more than 10 years. I don’t see him my brother when I’m at work,” Antetokounmou said in an interview with The Associated Press. He does his job, I do mine, but obviously when the game is over, when the practice is over, we spend as much time together as we can.
“It makes my life easier.”
Their other three brothers are in another part of the world. But the difficulties their families faced while staying in Athens kept them close, a story told in “Rise,” which appeared Friday on Disney+.
The film includes some highlights from the 2021 NBA Finals, when Antetokounmpo averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in leading the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. But he said the movie, in which he served as an executive producer, isn’t really about basketball.
“No, this is a movie about my father and my mother,” said Antitokonmo, “the sacrifices they made, how dedicated they were to helping us, the hardships they faced every day in their lives, the fear they experienced when they walked the streets of Athens.
“This is the real story.”
Charles and Vera Antitokonmo moved from Nigeria to Athens, leaving their eldest son with the family, but were never able to obtain Greek citizenship, which continued to cause disappointment and danger, even though the other four sons were born in the country. Basketball eventually provided the safety they could never have when Giannis entered the 2013 NBA Draft and was selected by the Bucks with the 15th pick.
One of the worst teams in the NBA when he arrived, the Bucks became one of the top teams behind Antetokounmpo, the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player. Fellow Junior Holiday has two brothers who play in the league, and Brooke Lopez’s twin robin has spent a season with the Bucks.
“I think it’s easier for us to connect with each other and know what they’re going through, and it’s fun to see Brook interacting with Robin or Jrue with Aaron or Justin,” Antetokounmpo said. “Like, it’s fun to see how they act when they’re playing with each other or how they act around each other on the basketball court.
“But that’s crazy, I don’t know if there were brothers who played on the same team or ever played against each other in the NBA like the Milwaukee Bucks.”
Another brother, Kostas Antetokounmue, won a title with the Lakers in 2020 before playing professionally in France, while Alex plays for the Toronto Raptors’ NBA team. This makes it difficult for siblings who once slept in the same bed to often be together, even though the four siblings joined their mom for this week’s premiere.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Hey, would you change your childhood, would you like to live a different life from the life you lived and raised?” said Antetokounmpo. “Like, no way, no way, because that’s what makes us who we are today.”
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