Giannis Antetokounmpo awestruck in first NBA White House visit since Barack Obama was president

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The NBA is back. 

In the White House that is. 

The NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks visited President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday, renewing a tradition that was put on hold during Donald Trump's presidency. Prior to Monday's visit, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the last NBA championship team to visit the White House when President Barack Obama hosted in 2016.

LeBron James was slated for a return visit in April to celebrate the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers, but that trip got canceled because of scheduling conflicts and COVID-19 concerns. 

So Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo took center stage in the first league visit in five years — after Biden had his turn at the podium, of course. A son of Nigerian immigrants who was born and raised in Greece, Antetokounmpo appeared awestruck at his lot in life that led to an invitation to the White House from the president of the United States at 26 years old.

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

Giannis Antetokounmpo speaks as US President Joe Biden looks on during an event honoring the 2021 NBA Championship Milwaukee Bucks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on November 8, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
The Bucks made the league's first White House visit on Monday since the 2016 Cavaliers. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Antetokounmpo's ride to a title is one of the NBA's best championship stories. Amid pressure to perform and suggestions to leave Milwaukee after a pair of early playoff exits during MVP seasons, Antetokounmpo re-signed with the Bucks ahead of the 2020-21 season. He then led a dramatic seven-game series victory over the Brooklyn Nets before delivering an all-time great Finals MVP effort in Milwaukee's win over the Phoenix Suns. 

And now, on Monday, he met with Biden at the White House. 

"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 praised the Bucks for their activism, which included leading a walkout in the NBA bubble last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"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.

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