Antetokounmpo Brothers Visit the White House

"Can’t wait to take these out for a spin," US President Biden tweeted following the meeting, where Giannis Antetokounmpo presented him with a pair of his custom Nikes.


Giannis Antetokounmpo got emotional when he heard US President Joe Biden tell his story at the White House.

Biden welcomed the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to the White House on Monday, the first time since 2016 that an NBA champion had been thus honored.

Biden praised team members not just for their achievements on the court, but also for their efforts to promote coronavirus vaccinations and for speaking out after the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake sparked protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Bucks, led by Antetokounmpo, seemed genuinely excited to get back to the tradition of NBA champs visiting the White House. Antetokounmpo even posted a video on social media of him practicing his greeting for the president.

Giannis’ older brother, Thanasis, also a Bucks member, was with him at the White house Monday.

The two brothers were beaten to an NBA title by their younger brother Kostas, member of the 2020 champion Los Angeles Lakers, although his role in the team was limited. Kostas is now playing for French club Villeurbane.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks end a 50-year drought, bringing home an NBA championship for the first time since Lew Alcindor (the Hall of Famer who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after converting to Islam) and Oscar Robertson led the team to the 1971 title.

Biden spoke of Antetokounmpo’s humble upbringing, being born in Greece to Nigerian immigrants, before he came to fame in the NBA. 

Antetokounmpo said he was also proud that the president highlighted his and his teammates’ activism.

“What we did had never happened in sport,” he said. “I’m proud of my teammates that we were able to stay in the locker room, talk about it, voice our opinion. … I was able to take a stand for something I believe in.”

Sound ON 🔊 @Giannis_An34 recaps an unforgettable day at The @WhiteHouse. pic.twitter.com/I2LQ0XT7wk

The sitting president, regardless of party, often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically nonpartisan affairs in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

But the celebratory visits became highly charged during the Trump presidency as many athletes took issue with Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more.

Lasry slyly suggested he hopes that the team keeps coming back to celebrate championships as long as Biden is president.

“What the hell, why don’t we come back for the next four years?” Lasry said. “Let’s do it for eight years.”

The last NBA team to visit the White House was the Cleveland Cavaliers, just days after Trump was elected president and while Barack Obama was still in office.

A longer version of this article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.

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