Siblings. They know exactly what button to push. Yet, they also know what motivates you. It seems like the Milwaukee Bucks are embracing that brotherly bond this season. Not one, but two pairs of siblings are on the 15-man squad.
The Bucks signed star player Giannis Antetokounmpo's brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo this year. While 27-year-old Thanasis Antetokounmpo is older, he has only played in the NBA for one year.
Going on his seventh season, Giannis Antetokounmpo, 24, acknowledges while his brother isn't as widely known, he is a hard worker.
"Hey, this guy right here, trust him. Know that if you tell him to run through a wall, he's going to run through a wall. And he's going to get up and say, 'Which other wall do you want me to run through?" Giannis Antetokounmpo said at a recent team media day.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, more reserved, tries to downplay the sibling connection.
"I mean, obviously it's my brother. But I don't see him as my brother. I just see it as an opportunity to play with a guy who gets better every year," Thanasis Antetokounmpo said.
Some basketball analysts say that the Bucks only signed Thanasis Antetokounmpo to keep his younger brother happy.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the last year of his contract with the team. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that Giannis told a Harvard Business School researcher that if the Bucks are "underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult." But then Thursday, Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal Sentinel that he never used those words.
The Bucks say they'll offer him a contract extension next offseason worth more than $250 million.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a big draw, and the team would like to keep the Fiserv Forum full like it was during the playoffs five months ago.
The Bucks say another indication that they're serious about doing well is the signing of Robin Lopez. He joins his twin brother Brook Lopez, who played on the team last year. The 31-year-old Lopez siblings, now in their 12th NBA season, seem to have a bit more edge to their relationship.
Brook Lopez says he's battled against his brother in basketball for decades.
"We'd go out and compete every single day against one another — in the driveway, in the playground. We'd make each other better. We'd get physical and get in fights, one would go running back to mom, but we'd always go back out there every day," Brook Lopez said.
When the Bucks were trying to sign Robin Lopez a few months ago, he says he didn't consult his twin.
"You know, Brook and I aren't talking that much. So, you'd best believe I didn't run it by him first. I don't think I have to run my decisions by Brook," Robin Lopez said.
However, he completely agrees with his brother, when crediting their mother for their success.
"As much as all we've all accomplished as human beings, my mom — didn't mean to turn this into a press conference about praising my mother — but she's a wonderful person who's done so much for us. I think that's where it starts," Robin Lopez said.
Lopez's mother, Deborah Ledford, was born in Milwaukee. She told SB Nation this week, that it's wonderful that her sons are on the same team again, just as they were at Stanford University.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer says coaching the two sets of brothers is positive — mostly.
"There's probably a few things that we've got to be conscientious of and make sure they're not always together ... Robin and Brook, there's been a lot of comments on how we're going to manage them in the locker room," Budenholzer said.
Budenholzer — joking, it seemed — says to check back with him early in the season, after the Bucks' double brothers act gets going in games that count.