Alex Antetokounmpo visits with Pacers, hopes to join three brothers in the NBA
He was with his brothers in Milwaukee to celebrate the championship: "It was a crazy, crazy, crazy experience. Man, I hope I get to witness another experience like that in my life.”
The Antetokounmpo family is having a week of a lifetime, seeing Giannis carry the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship and then unanimously be named Finals MVP.
He’s the third of five brothers. Thanasis, who’s fourth in line, won a championship with him and older brother Kostas was part of the Lakers’ title in the bubble last season.
The youngest brother Alex, who is 19, was in Indianapolis on Tuesday to complete his third pre-draft workout. He’s also worked out for the Rockets and Spurs ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday.
Much like we saw from Giannis during interviews on their postseason run, Alex is outgoing and gets excited — especially when talking about family. He’s grateful, they’re grateful, and not taking anything for granted.
“It’s been an unbelievable, unbelievable week,” Alex said, his voice raised with enthusiasm. “I was talking to my mother and I mean 16,000 people in the arena, 60,000 people right outside it. I was asking her, ‘When do you think is gonna be the next time you’re gonna see that many people happy at the same time?’ She was like, ‘I might never see it again in my life.’ It was a crazy, crazy, crazy experience. Man, I hope I get to witness another experience like that in my life.”
If he does, it’ll likely be around Giannis. But he hopes to experience it for himself one day.
“100 percent,” he replied with a big smile. “I feel like the journey was unbelievable for all the teams. Just making it into the playoffs I feel like was a big accomplishment and it gives you something to work towards.”
As the NBA completed a condensed 72-game schedule, Alex left Wisconsin and played professionally for UCAM Murcia CB in Spain. So not only was he away from family, but he also was in a new environment where basketball could be his focus.
“It was tough,” he admitted. “Going from a young high school kid to going overseas, and not being with my family, to a foreign country where not many people spoke English. It was very tough. It was a big, big adjustment, but I feel like I started to get the hang of it as time went on and ultimately I enjoyed it very much.
“I feel like it would be the same as going to another city to play college, just times 10. Going out there it just hits you. It hits you when nobody speaks English and English is not even my first language. It’s my second language. It definitely hits you and is a big adjustment, but I feel like it’s worth it for any player.”
Unlike most players during the draft process, Alex Antetokounmpo wasn’t hesitant to provide an honest assessment. He said there’s holes “everywhere” in his game and he’s nowhere near being the player he wants to be. But again, he’s just 19 and zeroed in on basketball as a teenager.
“We all started off playing soccer,” he said. That’s the route the eldest brother, Francis, went professionally. “I probably transitioned into playing basketball when I was 10 or 11. And around that time, I moved to the United States and that’s when I locked in on basketball.
“Obviously I’m kind of a raw talent, but just my versatility (is a highlight). The fact that I’m able to do a lot of things on the basketball court. Definitely my measurements — I have long arms and the way I can affect the game with my length and stuff like that.”
He was not involved in the draft combine so we don’t have his official measurements, like his wingspan or hand size that he referred to. That, in part, is why the Pacers bring him and others in — to get those measurements, to review his medical history, test his conditioning and good a look at him on the court.
The brothers all, very clearly, have great genes. The brothers’ late father, Charles, was a football player while their mother, Veronica, was a high jumper.
Alex Antetokounmpo says he’s a willing learner, excited to be coach and eager to put the work in. The stories of Giannis’ work ethic have become legendary. The natural physical gifts are there for Alex, now it’s about what he does with it.
He took part in the Pacers’ ninth and final workout ahead of the draft, joined by JaQuori McLaughlin of UC Santa Barbara.
“It was good,” Antetokounmpo said. “Definitely a different experience. You don’t know what to expect as a player coming in and it was definitely a fun workout. I definitely had fun and enjoyed it.”
The Pacers know a thing or two about brothers. Justin and Aaron — playing together in a formal setting for the first time in their life — are on the same team and Jrue, who is married to Ben Davis High School product and Olympic gold medalist Lauren Cheney, just won a championship with Giannis.
Thanasis was drafted 51st overall in 2014 and Kostas was taken last (60th) four years later. On Thursday night, Alex is hoping to make it 4 for 4 for the Antetokounmpo brothers. And the Pacers are right there with picks 54 and 60.
“It would be big, but I try to focus on myself,” he said, staying humble. So Antetokounmpo of him. “And try to focus on one thing at a time and just getting better in order to one day achieve that goal.”
It’s that mindset — staying in the present and appreciating the little things — that got them here to the U.S. and they’re enjoying it one brother at a time.