Brothers, basketball focus of the Antetokounmpo family’s “Rise.”

Brothers, basketball focus of the Antetokounmpo family’s “Rise.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t see this year’s NBA Finals. The series he dominated like few players last year was too stressful for a fan to watch.

“For example, I’m too tense because I just start sweating on the couch,” said Antetokounmpo.

He loves being on the pitch, mostly because his brother plays with him.

Antetokounmpo started basketball with his brother Thanasis in Greece and they’re still together in the Milwaukee Bucks – who have some players who know what it’s like to have siblings in the NBA.

“Me and Thanasis have played on the same team for more than 10 years. So it’s almost like there are two colleagues going to work every day,” Antetokounmpo said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I don’t see him as my brother when I’m at work. He does his job, I do my job, but of course when the game is over, when practice is over, we spend as much time together as possible.

“He makes my life a lot easier.”

Her other three brothers are elsewhere in the world. But the difficulties her family has faced while living in Athens have kept them together, a story told in Rise, which debuts 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 to lead the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. But he said the film, which he executive produced, wasn’t really about basketball.

“No, this is a film about my father and mother,” said Antetokounmpo, “the sacrifices they made, how committed they were to taking care of us, the difficulties they faced every day of their lives , and the fear they felt as they walked the streets of Athens.

“That’s the real story.”

Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo moved to Athens from Nigeria and left their eldest son with the family but were never able to obtain Greek citizenship, which continued to bring disappointment and danger even though the other four sons were born in the country. Basketball finally offered the security they could never get when Giannis entered the 2013 NBA draft and was picked by the Bucks with the No. 15.

When he arrived, the Bucks were one of the worst teams in the NBA and have gone on to become one of the best behind Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP. Teammate Jrue Holiday has two brothers who play in the league, and center Brook Lopez’s twin Robin even spent a season with the Bucks.

“I think it’s just easier for us to relate to each other and know what they’re going through and it’s fun to see Brook interacting with Robin or Jrue interacting with Aaron or Justin,” Antetokounmpo said. “For example, it’s fun to see how they act when they play against each other or how they act around each other on the basketball court.

“But it’s crazy, I don’t know if there’s ever been a brother who’s played on the same team or played against each other in the NBA as many times as the Milwaukee Bucks.”

Another brother, Kostas Antetokounmpo, won a title with the Lakers in 2020 before playing professionally in France, while Alex plays for NBA G League affiliate Toronto Raptors. That makes it difficult for siblings who once slept in the same bed to be together often, although the four brothers were with their mother at the premiere this week.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Hey, would you change your childhood, would you like to live a different life than the life you had and the upbringing you had?'” Antetokounmpo said. “No way, no way, because that’s what makes us who we are today.”


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