Every Friday, The Washington Post sits down with someone in the NBA universe to talk about life on and off the court. This week’s subject is Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, otherwise known as “The Greek Freak.”
Who is the player that you most wanted to play against before coming to the NBA?
At first, I think it was Kevin Durant.
Because you were compared to him?
Yes, and he was one of my favorite players at that time. Now it’s Kobe Bryant, because I’ve never played against him, because he’s been hurt.
Do you know when your game is that you can play against him for the first time?
No. I just hope he isn’t hurt. [It’s Dec. 15 in Los Angeles.]
Have you gotten used to seeing other stars on the court?
I’m used to it. At first I wasn’t playing so much, so when I had the chance to guard them, I was thinking in my head, “I’m guarding [Kevin Durant] right now. I’m guarding LeBron James.” I was like a fan on the court.
If you had to pick the most memorable moment of your career so far, what would it be?
I would say Game 4 in the playoffs, when [Bucks guard] Jerryd Bayless hit the buzzer-beater. That was our first playoff win.
What about for you?
It was a game against Toronto, it was the third game of my rookie season. In the first [half], I missed a layup, and one of my teammates was yelling at me. “Giannis, you have to make layups!” Then O.J. Mayo came to me and said, “Giannis, don’t worry about it. Next time, go in there and try to dunk it.” So when I came in for the second half, I had the ball at the three-point line. So I took a dribble, and went up and dunked it.
Who did you dunk it on?
I went by someone, and everyone opened up so I was by myself. So I was like, “Oh! I can do that! I can do this.”
The other moment was my first point in Madison Square Garden.
Is that the arena you always wanted to play in?
I think the one that was really special for me was the Lakers, Staples Center, and in Boston. I was watching the Finals when the Lakers and Celtics played each other.
What is it like playing for Jason Kidd?
It’s fun. He’s a great coach. He’s a great coach. He just wants us to play hard, and it’s fun being around him, and he knows how we feel because he was a player before.
If you were going to do something else besides be a basketball player, what would it be?
I don’t know, but I would like to do something that involved basketball … maybe coach high school kids.
But what if basketball didn’t exist? What would you do?
Let me think about it … security guard?
I don’t know. Because I’m really tall.
Your whole family lives with you?
My mom, my dad, my littler brothers, Alex and Kostas. Alex is 14.
How much nicer is it having your whole family here, instead of back in Greece?
It’s great. My first year, they weren’t here and it was hard for me. It was hard for me because my mind was back home. But now, having them here is a blessing. If I have a bad game or a bad day, having them around me is really nice.
Your older brother, Thanasis, plays in the D-League. How good are your younger brothers at basketball?
Kostas is really good. He’s almost 6-foot-10. I think, if he keeps working hard, he’s going to do big things.
Is he going to play in college here?
Yes. That’s the plan. But if he doesn’t find an opportunity, he can go back to Europe, but his first option is college.
Do you and your brothers play video games?
Yes. I play “FIFA,” “Call of Duty,” “2K16,” and “Dragonball Z.”
Both XBOX and PS4.
Who is the best at “FIFA” among you and your brothers?
I’m going to go with myself. I’m the best at “FIFA.” That’s the only game I’m really good at.
What is your go-to team in the game?
PSG (Paris Saint-Germain). Because of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and [Edinson] Cavani, and they have good defenders in David Luiz and Thiago Silva, so they’re pretty good.
What candy do you like?
I like Rice Krispie treats, I like Skittles and Snickers.
Why do you like them?
First of all, I like Snickers because I like chocolate. Rice Krispie treats, the first time I had them was here in the U.S., and Skittles I always had, ever since I was a little kid.
What did you think when you had your first Rice Krispie treat? Did you know what it was?
No, I really didn’t know what it was. But I knew it tasted nice. I think it was rice with honey?
I know you love smoothies. What do you like about them?
I like that they are healthy. One of my close friends back in Milwaukee had one, so I tried it.
Do you make them yourself now?
No. I usually buy them, and then [the Bucks] have a nutritionist, so after practice we have smoothies.
What flavors do you like?
I like berry, just different berries … I like pineapple in it, and I like banana in it, too.
What other foods have you discovered since coming to America that you enjoy?
Pancakes. And, what was it? … Lasagna.
Lasagna? What do you like about lasagna?
It reminds me of a Greek food that we have that’s similar, pastitsio.
What do you miss about living in Greece?
A lot of my friends, the old things that I used to do … it’s a lot different here. Athens is more like Washington, it’s a big city. Everything is close. In Milwaukee, you have to drive like 15 minutes so you can get stuff. But Milwaukee is quiet. It’s a really nice city. I like that it’s quiet.
You like being in a smaller, quieter place?
I like living in a smaller place, but I like being in big cities, too, like Athens.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is “Coming to America” by Eddie Murphy.
Because it was a movie that I used to watch with my mother when I was younger.
Did you watch it and think that you’d like to come to America?
I never thought that I’d watch it because one day we’d go to America. But at that moment I thought it was a really fun movie. Me and my mother, we both love Eddie Murphy.
Who is your favorite musician?
I like J. Cole, because a year ago, before the playoffs, one of my teammates, Kendall Marshall, I heard he was listening to J. Cole and I said, “Let me try.” Since then, I love his songs. Whenever he has new songs, I usually buy.
Is there a J. Cole song that’s your favorite?
Yeah. “Love Yourz.”
Why do you like it?
He’s just talking about life, and about how sometimes it’s easier to live when you’re broke. It’s something that applies to my life a little bit. Now with all of this fame and basketball, you’ve got to do a lot of things. You have to take care of taxes, take care of this, take care of that … but when I was young, I didn’t have to do nothing. I was just played basketball.
If you could have dinner with three people, who would they be?
In the world?
Yes. Who would they be?
Barack Obama, J. Cole and Michael Jordan.
Why for each one?
Barack Obama, because he’s the president. J. Cole because he’s my favorite musician, and Michael Jordan because he’s the best player to ever play the game. Can I put in a fourth?
Sure. Who would you like to add?
I just want to meet him in person. I’ve never met him. Let me add one more: Kevin Hart.
Is he your favorite comedian?
Are you a fan of Justin Bieber’s music?
Yeah, I’m a fan of him.
Do you have a favorite song for him?
I like the new song that he has, “Sorry.”
What’s your favorite TV show?
Do you watch a lot?
Have you been on the show?
No, never. No.
Would you like to be on the show?
How come you like it?
I don’t remember when I watched it first … maybe I watched an episode on YouTube? Then I started watching some things that she does, and she’s funny. So I just liked it.
What was the biggest thing you had to get used to when you moved here?
What about America in general?
The first thing I came when I saw were the tall buildings, the towers. In Greece, our buildings are eight floors, at the most. I went to New York, and you can see buildings that are like 60 floors.
What was the biggest adjustment to living in Milwaukee?
The weather. In Greece, it snows once every four or five years.
So you had seen snow before you came here?
Yes. Not much, but I’d seen it. But not like Milwaukee. Our snow [in Greece] is almost like rain. It snows a little bit. But in Milwaukee, one day you have sun, and the next day you open the door and there’s snow everywhere.