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MVP, trophy find their way to Greece

by The Associated Press | August 2, 2021 at 1:57 a.m.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, NBA Champion of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, with his mother Veronica, and brother Thanasis pose for a picture at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ATHENS, Greece -- Giannis Antetokounmpo definitely had something to declare on his triumphant return to Greece on Sunday.

The NBA star carried the Larry O'Brien Trophy with him at Athens International Airport and said he hopes to win more titles with the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We are happy to be back and that we could bring the trophy with us," Antetokounmpo said at a news conference at the airport.

The 26-year-old "Greek Freak" sat next to the gleaming NBA championship trophy, along with his NBA Finals MVP award and his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 29, who also plays for the Bucks.

"We had to go through a long process [to bring the trophy to Greece]," Giannis Antetokounmpo said. "We don't know how many days we will stay, but we will take it with us to the places we grew up, to Sepolia and Zografou."

Sepolia is the Athens neighborhood where the Antetokounmpo brothers grew up. Zografou is the Athens suburb where Giannis began his basketball career at a local club, Filathlitikos.

Antetokounmpo has always returned to Sepolia, where he has maintained ties with the few people who at the time openly welcomed the children of poor African immigrants from Nigeria. Thanasis and Giannis were born in Greece -- in 1992 and 1994, respectively -- as were their younger brothers, Kostas and Alex, but acceptance as Greeks was not always easy.

The Antetokounmpo brothers plan to return to Sepolia during their current trip to show the trophies to local kids who, like many other Greeks young and old, now idolize them. Especially Giannis.

Asked about his first title, Antetokounmpo said the celebration "did not last long. I want to live this again" with another title. "To continue getting better, stay hungry, stay winning and live such moments with Milwaukee and the Greek national team. This feeling of winning is addictive."

Antetokounmpo added that part of his desire to win is "because I'm a people pleaser. I want to win for [son] Liam, my mother, my family, my friends, for Greece.

"I might win the next title next year, or three years from now. But even if I never win another title in my life, I will still be OK, because that will have been God's plan."

Giannis and Thanasis are not the first Antetokounmpos to win an NBA championship. Younger brother Kostas, 23, did it first with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, although his contribution was limited. Kostas will play next season with French club Villeurbanne.

NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, talks with fans as he enters a van, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, talks with fans as he enters a van, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Fans of the NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, cheer and take pictures at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Fans of the NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, cheer and take pictures at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, adjusts his brother's Thanasis face mask at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, adjusts his brother's Thanasis face mask at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Fans of the NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, wait at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Fans of the NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, wait at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, signs an autograph at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, signs an autograph at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, talks with his mother, right, who holds his MVP Award, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, talks with his mother, right, who holds his MVP Award, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, arrives at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, arrives at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, arrives at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, arrives at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
A woman takes a selfie with NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, background, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
A woman takes a selfie with NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo, background, of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. The NBA champion and finals MVP plans to stay in Greece for a few days, before returning to the U.S., where his girlfriend expects their second child later this month. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Print Headline: MVP, trophy find their way to Greece

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