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Giannis Antetokounmpo named flag-bearer for Greece at Paris Olympics, will lead Parade of Nations

Giannis Antetokounmpo named flag-bearer for Greece at Paris Olympics, will lead Parade of Nations

Giannis Antetokounmpo will be an Olympian for the first time this summer in Paris.

There, he'll be bestowed with one of the greatest honors an athlete can experience. The Athens native will carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony for Greece, a nation synonymous with the Olympics.

Greece's Hellenic Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that Antetokounmpo and third-time Olympian race walker Antigoni Drisbioti will carry the Greek flag in the Parade of Nations along the Seine River. That means they'll lead the parade for all nations. As the home of the Ancient Olympic Games, Greece traditionally walks first.

It's a tremendous honor for Drisbioti and Antetokounmpo, who proudly waved the Greek flag when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Giannis Antetokounmpo stands by the Greek flag during the 2013 NBA Draft. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Since that 2013 draft night, Antetokounmpo has achieved at the highest levels of basketball. He's an eight-time NBA All-Star, a two-time MVP and an NBA champion. He's represented Greece on the international stage in multiple competitions. But he's never played in the Olympics.

That will change this summer thanks to a landmark Greece win over Croatia on Sunday. With the 80-69 victory, Greece qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008. The moment moved Antetokounmpo to tears.

"It's an incredible feeling," Antetokounmpo said after the game. "Since I was a kid, I always wanted to play in the Olympic Games."

After that win, speculation swirled that Antetokounmpo would be asked to carry the Greek flag in the Opening Ceremony. Antetokounmpo addressed the possibility in his postgame news conference.

"Man, that's an honor," Antetokounmpo said. "In the Olympic Games, the best athletes in the world — people that are 40 years old, 39 years old, they're still coming back to play in the Olympics. So you understand what this means.

"Being able to be my first one — if I'm the flag-bearer, great. If I'm not, it's OK. I'm just happy man. I'm just happy that I have a good coaching staff, a good team. I'm in the Olympics. I just want to go, compete, be more healthy — compete and try to make something happen. As coach say, I will enjoy. I will enjoy every moment. Because you never know in life. I will enjoy every moment."

Now, it's not just possibility. It's slated to happen. And Antetokounmpo — who's achieved the highest of highs that professional sports has to offer — will reach a new height that few get to experience.

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