Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo says it would be awesome to team up with brothers ‘in Milwaukee, L.A., wherever’

At All-Star weekend in Chicago, Giannis Antetokounmpo answered an innocuous question about teaming up with his brothers in the NBA in a way that might have been a bit too honest. The Milwaukee Bucks superstar dared to acknowledge that it could theoretically happen somewhere outside of Milwaukee. 

Some context: The weekend is a bit of a blur for star players, whose schedules are packed with promotional events, league-mandated appearances and parties. Sometimes, the promotional events, usually run by brands, include a series of short interviews. The quote, now circulating widely, originated at one such promotional event.

The Bucks signed Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ older brother, last July. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Kostas Antetokounmpo, his younger brother, with the last pick in the 2018 draft. USA Today’s Mackenzie Salmon asked the reigning MVP if he had ever thought about what it would be like having everyone on the same team. (His youngest brother, Alex, is playing at Dominican High School in Milwaukee.) 

Antetokounmpo’s answer: “I think that would be amazing. Obviously we’d spend more time together, and I’m 100 percent sure my mom would love that. But if we could like team up in a team in Milwaukee, L.A., wherever, that would be awesome.”

The safe answer, and perhaps the one he would give if he could do it over, would not include any mention of potential cities where they could play. Antetokounmpo has largely declined to talk about his future — the Bucks can offer him a super-max contract this coming summer — to avoid creating a media circus, but teams are planning around his 2021 free agency and speculation is inevitable. After losing four straight games to the Toronto Raptors in last May’s Eastern Conference finals, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported that making the Finals in 2020 could be the difference-maker for Milwaukee’s chances of keeping him. Antetokounmpo essentially confirmed that he wants to stay unless they’re “underperforming” in an interview with a Harvard Business School professor, and later said he was misquoted.  

The whole situation is fraught because the Bucks are a small-market team and have been downright dominant in the regular season. Reasonable people have made the argument that Milwaukee should be getting more attention because of how well it has played, and other reasonable people have argued that it’s basically impossible to overanalyze an impending decision that could change the landscape of the league. Unreasonable people have been saying those same things, only more loudly and indignantly. 

In that same interview with USA Today in Chicago, Salmon asked Antetokounmpo if he sees himself continuing his legacy in Milwaukee if he wins MVP again.

“I can’t think that far ahead, Antetokounmpo said. “You know, I’m just trying to focus in the moment and get better. But why not? I’m a guy that wants to be with a team for a while, but, as long as we’re winning. And we’re winning so far, so I don’t think anything is going to change.”

Nothing has changed. And of course he’d love to play with his brothers. He likely just mentioned Los Angeles because it’s where Kostas is right now. Until he commits to the Bucks, though, any little slip-up on his part will be considered newsworthy.

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