Bowles Q&A: Kostas Antetokounmpo talks about EuroBasket and Giannis Brothers

Kostas Antetokounmpo has scored 21 points in 22 NBA games. He’s trying to make his fourth team after being drafted in 2018 by the Philadelphia 76ers and traded to the Dallas Mavericks, who waived him before he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

At Chicago Bulls training camp, Antetokounmpo is vying for one vacant two-way contract, with competition from Malcolm Hill and Carlik Jones, among others.

Antetokounmpo sat down with NBC Sports Chicago recently to discuss the opportunity, what continues to drive him as he approaches the age of 25 without finding a stable home in the NBA — and yes, his more famous older brother, Giannis:

NBC Sports Chicago: How did that opportunity develop with the Bulls?

They saw me play EuroBasket and they wanted me here. So I think it was a good opportunity for me to try and improve.”

How was the experience?

“It was good. The first week of training camp is always tough. I learn a lot and get close to my teammates.”

Describe yourself as a player?

“I’m definitely a defensive player, able to guard multiple positions and switch from 1 to 5 (guard through position). And then offensively, I flatten the ground and run on the ground as well. I definitely want to improve my outside shooting and my playmaking in general.”

What did management tell you about your chances of survival?

“They didn’t give me any promises. It’s just offer number 10, a training camp deal. We’ll see who’s there.”

Do you feel stressed knowing that there is only a two-way contract available?

“I just stay in the course, try to get better, try to help the team as much as I can. It’s all supposed to be. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, go to the next opportunity. The goal is just to get better. When I say and do, I will say I became the best player I could be.”

How was the EuroBasket experience for you?

“It was a great experience playing against some of the best players in Europe. It’s amazing to compete at this level.”

Was playing with your siblings more special?

“Yes, absolutely. Having those shared moments and shared experiences together is amazing.”

[Editor’s note: Giannis played in six games, oldest brother Thanasis played in seven and Kostas appeared in two as Greece advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Germany.]

What does it mean to have a famous brother like Giannis?

“What’s he like? I don’t know. He’s just my brother, to me. It’s not like he’s got a big head or anything like that. He’s just a humble guy who comes from a humble family. He keeps his head down. He works hard.”

How do you think he played at EuroBasket?

“He was amazing. When I saw him do it against other countries, I said, ‘There’s nobody who can do that.'” “Obviously there are great players in EuroBasket. You have Luka (Dončić). You have (Nikola) Joki and other great players. But seeing what he’s been doing in terms of talent with such power and skill, it’s amazing.”

Where does his humility come from?

“This is how you stay good. If you already think you’re the best player you can be, you won’t work so hard. That’s what makes him get better every year. Seeing your brother has that mentality and my big brother has the same mentality, you can always get better. He’s driving you around.” My parents taught us a lot. Seeing your parents work so hard every day just to survive gives you a different motivation. What we saw helped us put what we have.”

How did it help you?

“A lot. He helps me mostly mentally. Being my older brother, he gives me advice about basketball and life.”

Did you ever joke with Giannis that you won the NBA title before him?

[Editor’s note: Kostas logged 20 minutes for the 2019-20 Lakers, who, with Alex Caruso, won the NBA title one season before Giannis’ Bucks did.]

(Laughs) “I was at first. But then he got his job after 10 months. He came back so fast.”

Click here to catch up on the Bulls Talk Podcast.

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