MILWAUKEE -- Fans in attendance during Friday night's Milwaukee Bucks game were not only treated to free Greek-themed T-shirts at the door, they also witnessed the first career start of Giannis Antetokounmpo's older brother, Thanasis.
Prior to Greek Night, "The Antetokounmbros" had played a grand total of nine seconds together this season, but two hours ahead of tipoff, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told Thanasis about the change in starters with him among them.
Thanasis didn't disappoint with a fast-break jam in the opening minutes that brought the home crowd to its feet, but the Bucks saw their nine-game winning streak snapped in a 127-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets nailed a season-high 22 3-pointers.
Thanasis also finished an and-1 layup from Giannis' assist at 8:38 in the first quarter before Brook Lopez entered the game for him at 8:06. Thanasis then returned in the final 1:09 of the first for Lopez to finish with four points.
"Think about if you're like 14 years old, right? And you're in your room and you're talking with your brother like, 'Imagine if we played on the same team and the gym is packed with 20,000 people and we pass the ball to each other and we score,'" Thanasis said. "And legit today, I was running for a layup, like let me chase the ball and go for a layup, then he stops and passes me the ball and I score, then I realize that it just happened so it's surreal."
Before Friday's game against Denver, Thanasis appeared in 14 games this season averaging 1.9 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 4.0 minutes per game. He was also assigned to one game in the G League for the Wisconsin Herd in November, which Giannis made the 90-mile drive to watch in Oshkosh despite snowstorms.
"That was amazing, man. I don't think we've ever started in a game together," said Giannis, who ended with 31 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists. "Not in the national team, not in the team that we played for before we became pro. Just being able to start with Thanasis is something that's always going to stick with me. I think he did a great job."
Indiana Pacers teammates Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday were the last pair of brothers to start on Nov. 18, 2019, at Brooklyn, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris Sr. also started for the Phoenix Suns in 2014-15.
"It was just a night for he and Giannis to start an NBA game together," Budenholzer said. "I just thought it was something unique and special, and I thought Thanasis gave us great energy out the gate, we got off to a great start and let those two guys play together for a minute."
Afterward, even in defeat, the brothers were the last to leave the locker room as they signed a bunch of Greek-themed bobbleheads for fans. Nearly an hour after the final buzzer, hundreds of fans still filled the stands to catch a glimpse of them before they left the arena.
Thanasis isn't hanging around as some sideshow to his brother, though.
"Nothing is given in life," Thanasis told ESPN following a Bucks practice on Oct. 19. "Everything is earned by hard work and dedication.
"Nobody can give you anything in life, if you can't stay at the level, if you can't work hard and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you."