The Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, snapping their nine-game winning streak.
Following a week of mourning horrific tragedy, the NBA community and basketball world was reminded that there is more to life than just wins and losses. It’s about appreciating your loved ones, and cherishing the memorable moments you spend together. Because, truly, you just never know.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ older brother, said he learned about two hours before tip-off that he’d be making his first career start. Their very proud mother, Veronica, cheering in the crowd.
“Just enjoy it,” Thanasis recalled head coach Mike Budenholzer telling him before the game. “You’ve been working really hard.
“To be able to start with my brother, on the same team, and my family in the stands. And, to be able to have coach trust me, to say ‘go guard (Nikola) Jokic and keep him off his game,’ it’s big.”
An audience of Greek fans, celebrating Greek Heritage Night at Fiserv Forum, were in attendance as well. All of them ecstatic to see both Antetokounmpo brothers on an NBA floor at the same time, for the first time ever.
“That was amazing, man,” Giannis said. “Great feeling. I don’t think we ever started in a game together. Not for the national team. Not for the team we played for before we became pro. Just being able to start with Thanasis, it’s something that is always going to stick with me.
“I think he did a great job, was able to bring some energy, get some deflections and get some easy ones. He did a good job.”
One minute and two seconds into the game, Thanasis took a steal coast-to-coast and threw down a thunderous fast-break dunk that sent fans into an uproar.
Less than 90 seconds later, he slashed through the lane, catching a pass in-stride and rose for a made layup and an and-one opportunity.
The pass came from his little brother. Giannis fist-pumped in celebration as if he scored the basket himself.
“I know Thanasis as a player,” Giannis said about the play. “I know whenever somebody drives the ball, he’s going to cut and go for an offensive rebound. I was able to get a lane. I saw (Jerami) Grant taking a step and I saw Thanasis coming full speed.
“I think it was a bounce pass, I don’t remember, but he was able to get it and finish.”
These moments, whether it be the dunk, or the assist, or Thanasis not knowing where to go when the starters were being introduced and Giannis having to direct him to sit down until his name was called, these moments will never be forgotten by the ‘Antetokounbros.’
They never thought these dreams would actually come true.
“Think about this,” Thanasis said to discuss how far the two have come. “Think about if you’re like 14 years old, right? And you’re in your room and you’re talking with your brother like,’oh, imagine if we played on the same team, and the gym is packed with 20,000 people and we pass the ball to each other and we score.’
“Legit today, I was running, I saw him and he was going for a layup, so I was like ‘let me chase the ball as he goes up’ and (Giannis) stops mid-air and passes me the ball and I score. Then I realize, it just happened. So, it’s surreal.”
Brotherly and teammate chemistry is clearly real, seeing as how Giannis knew that Thanasis would follow the ball, looking for an offensive rebound. Instead, Giannis was able to assist his brother’s scoring efforts. In front of 20,000 fans, just as they dreamt it.
“It’s crazy, man. It’s really insane,” Giannis replied when asked about the surreal moment. “When we were growing up we never thought we’d be starting an NBA game, playing together in NBA minutes.
“I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. I know my mom in the stands, she’s really happy about it. I just am happy that Thanasis got the opportunity and was able to do something with it and play hard and help the team.”
After the game the duo signed bobblehead boxes before going out to the court to take photos, and sing and talk to the contingent of Greek fans who were there just to see them play basketball.
— Tony Cartagena (@TonyCartagena) February 1, 2020
Milwaukee may have lost the game. The film will undoubtedly showcase some defensive deficiencies and areas for improvement.
But tonight, Giannis and Thanasis experienced something they will never forget. Memories that will last forever. And when the final buzzer sounds, isn’t that really all that matters anyways?