Must see photo from the interview: http://www.gazzetta.gr/sites/default/files/sitefiles_2014-07/20140702_143618.jpg
I apologize for any mistakes or typos...
Q: This time last season your were still trying to realize that you were selected at No15 of the NBA draft. One year later, what is the recap of your rookie season in the best league of the world?
G.A: It was a wonderful year! Truth be told it started a bit slow, because I wasn’t sure if I would be in the coach options and get any playing time, but quickly I felt his trust and started getting my chances. After that the season became great because I had good games, I went to the All-Star game and incredible things happened...
Q: However, the start of the NBA season was difficult because you were forced to leave your family behind and leave on your own (alone) for almost 6 months...
G.A: This was also good though! I grew and matured, because I lived on my own for the first time, for so long and I had the time and space to think about and manage the pressure of my new life and the requirements of the NBA.
Q: How about you Thanassi? You preferred the tough road and instead of staying in the security of Europe, you decided to play in NBDL to make a name for yourself in the U.S. and increase your chances to get selected in the draft. How hard was your path with the jersey of Delaware 87ers in the NBDL?
T.A: For me too it was difficult, mostly because I was away from my family! In NBDL the environment is not so flashy/fancy as is in the NBA, but I fought through and god helped me to leave good impressions. Now let’s go for the best!
Q: For a few days now the "label" that comes up with you says: "NBA player"...
T.A: I really wanted to be selected in the draft and join officially the magical world of NBA and I worked really hard for this! I am grateful to god that he offered me this!
Q: The Knicks selected you at no 51, because the BOPO of the team, Phil Jackson, was impressed from your athletic skills, roughness/toughness, and worker’s mentality. How is to be close to this great "totem" of the basketball world?
T.A: He is a huge entity! He is impressive! He talks to you for 10 minutes and automatically you wonder: "What sport was I playing all this time?...". His speech is knowledge!
Q: Last year you held the Greek flag and celebrated wildly with the success of your brother. This year the roles were inversed, with Gianni hugging you and Kosta holding the Greek flag... It was really an amazing image...
T.A: We are very bonded and tight as family and we are always happy with the success of one and other. For us it wasn’t something unprecedented, this is how we are!
Q: You Gianni, how did you live this year’s draft?
G.A: I was much more stressed than last year because I knew how much Thanassis wanted it! We were talking all year about this night and as I soon as I heard his name and saw him going down the stairs towards the stage, I felt really proud and I wanted to hug him... I started tearing up but hopefully cameras didn’t catch it! (Giannis smiles!)
Q: From what we’ve heard there was havoc with the Greeks of New York and their expressions of love towards you...
G.A: It’s unbelievable what happens with all of our compatriots in New York! I remember last season, the first time we played against the Knicks, I exited the stadium to enter the bus and there were 50 Greeks who were screaming my name! It was the first time I saw so many people with Greek roots and I honestly didn’t expect it... Later on, I realized that there are also other cities with a strong Greek component, like Toronto or Chicago, but this first impression was really nice... Just think that I counted over 10 Greek flags in the stands that day! I really felt proud for my country and for myself. I had the support from these strangers but who were my compatriots!
Q: We heard rumors that you were teased a lot by your teammates because of the Greek "welcomings" in the cities you played...
G.A: (He laughs) They were teasing me a bit because people were interested in me, but to tell you the truth I think they were a bit jealous!
T.A: It was really crazy (in N.Y.)! When I heard my name, Barclays center was half-empty but wherever I turned I saw Greek flags and many Greeks. Sometimes I saw Greeks that drove for two hours from N.Y to Delaware just to see me play! Incredible...
Q: After several years as teammates in Philathlitikos, an era begins where you’ll be opponents, most probably from summer league in Las Vegas... Do you remember the 1-on-1’s you played when you were younger?
T.A: Man! It’s been a long time since we’ve played... It chaos, it was a brawl (he laughs)! We are very competitive and played really hard... That’s mostly the reason most of these games remained unfinished! But that’s how you become better!
Q: Who won, Gianni?
G.A: The best! Depending on how played tougher... I don’t know who is the best between us...
Q: In the first Knicks – Bucks game, would you ask from the coach to guard Gianni, because you know him well?
T.A: I’ll ask the coach to guard the best player of the opponent. If Giannis is the best, then I’ll handle him!
Q: How about you Gianni?
G.A: (He smiles) I would prefer to play together as teammates but even as opponents, that is awesome! We grew with that dream to play in the NBA and I am really looking forward to October to play in that pre-season game in London! It will be a great experience and hopefully our parents can come over and live it closely.
Q: How do your parents view this whole situation?
T.A: They are ecstatic! They cannot believe that this is happening, that two of their children will be in the NBA and living the dream! Almost we haven’t realized it yet!
Q: Your parents, where are they going to live next season? N.Y or Milwaukee?
G.A: My mother has started telling me some nonsenses, that she’ll go to New York but I made it clear to her! This is not happening! Everybody will be in Milwaukee and Thanassis will be in N.Y.! There is no way I’m losing her cooking!
T.A: I’m trying to convince her, maybe she can come every other month, cook me a dozen foods/portions and then go back to Milwaukee... We’ll see...
Q: Did you follow the World Cup and the Greek national team?
G.A: Of course! Is it possible to not follow the World Cup with our father being as a football maniac as he is? We watched every game! Greece had a very good tournament and we almost advanced through to the quarter-finals, if it wasn’t for the missed PK of Gekas! This team deserves a lot of congratulations and credit!
Q: Not that Greece is out, which team do you root for?
G.A: I like Brazil and I would like for them to win in their home court!
T.A: I don’t have the preference! I supported Greece and my friend, Giannis Maniatis... now I don’t know... Maybe Netherlands that plays beautiful football.
Q: Gianni, what do you think about the basketball national team?
G.A: Since I was a little kid I wanted to play on the national team! I spoke with coach Katsikaris and he has some plans that may involve me! I would really like to play in such a strong tournament, like the World Championship, to honor my country and Greeks around the world, but also to become a better player! I am really looking forward to wear the jersey of our national team!