Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks honored as NBA champions finally return to White House

Washington DC - Giannis Antetokounmpo was awestruck as the Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA champions to visit the White House in five years.

President Joe Biden looks on as Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo speaks about the winning the 2021 NBA Championship.
President Joe Biden looks on as Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo speaks about the winning the 2021 NBA Championship.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

An annual tradition of the NBA champions making their way to the official residence of the United States president in Washington was put on hold during Donald Trump's term. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the last titleholder to visit the White House when Barack Obama hosted in 2016.

That hiatus ended on Monday when superstar Antetokounmpo and the Bucks – who claimed their first championship since 1971 last season – took center stage alongside President Joe Biden.

"This is awesome," Antetokounmpo said. "A kid from Sepolia, Athens, Greece – grew up from two Nigerian parents who were struggling every day to provide for us... It's an unbelievable opportunity to be able to be in the White House meeting the president of the United States."

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"I could not be as honored and happy that something like this – that I've accomplished something like this in my life."

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The Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA champions to visit the White House in five years.
The Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA champions to visit the White House in five years.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Antetokounmpo added: "For everybody out there, this is a great example that with hard work, with sacrifices – if you dedicate yourself to waking up every single day and try to get better in anything you do, in anything you love and believe in your dreams – you can accomplish great things in life."

"Man, as I said. I've done that my whole life. And I'm in the White House."

Biden hailed the Bucks for their efforts to promote coronavirus vaccinations and for speaking out following the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake.

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The NBA postponed games in 2020 after the Bucks announced they would not participate in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series, Milwaukee seeking to shed light on racial injustices.

"You took a stand for justice and peace in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and you've gotten people engaged," Biden said.

Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo

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