Lionel Messi’s new nemesis? Bucks star and Nashville SC minority owner Giannis Antetokounmpo performs Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘SIU’ celebration – mimicking Inter Miami star’s biggest rival ahead of Leagues Cup final
- Antetokounmpo has been a Nashville SC minority owner since March
- The Bucks star’s father and brother have both played professional soccer
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Milwaukee Bucks superstar and Nashville SC minority owner Giannis Antetokounmpo had some fun at Lionel Messi’s expense ahead of Saturday’s Leagues final match by emulating the Inter Miami star’s biggest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo was hard to miss on the field before the championship game, doing television interviews and netting a free kick from about 30 yards away.
To celebrate his impromptu goal, Antetokounmpo did the pirouetting ‘SIU’ celebration, popularized by Ronaldo. Cameras did not appear to catch Messi’s reaction, but Antetoukounmpo’s brother and teammate, Thanasis, responded with laughter.
The sons of a former Nigerian association football player, the Antetokounmpo brothers were born in Athens and grew up in Greece as the country’s national team won the 2004 European Cup. In fact, Giannis’ oldest brother, Francis, has been a pro soccer player, while another brother Kostas, plays basketball for Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe – the same sporting club that has won 28 Turkish soccer titles.
But despite his family’s fondness for soccer, Giannis had not attended a Nashville SC game until Saturday, when Messi and Inter Miami came into town to play for the Leagues Cup title.
Giannis Antetokounmpo kicks a ball prior to the Leagues Cup 2023 final match
‘It’s been an amazing experience,’ Antetokounmpo told Apple TV before the game. ‘I haven’t had the time to do enjoy it as much because, obviously, the season, and obviously I’ve been extremely busy with my kids, things that I do off the court, working out and getting better, but this was the only opportunity I could come and watch this game with my little brother.
‘I’m happy that I’m here, I’m happy to come to a game which is this big,’ he continued. ‘Having Lionel Messi, you know, playing against us, one of the best players to ever play this game, and probably this is going to be the first time in my life rooting against him. So Nashville, we’re gonna get this one.’
Giannis, a former NBA champion and MVP of the 2021 Finals, said he hopes Nashville players appreciate the opportunity they had on Saturday.
‘At the end of the day, when I was in the NBA Finals two years ago, I enjoyed every single minute,’ he said. ‘You can never have this moment back. You can never take it for granted.’
Giannis, along with NHL and Nashville Predators star Filip Forsberg, became Nashville SC minority owners in March.
He’s one of several players with stakes in MLS teams, including Kevin Durant (Philadelphia Union) and James Harden (Houston Dynamo).