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Giannis Antetokounmpo responds to racist slur used against his brother

Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 17:56:32-05

Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo took to social media late Wednesday night to defend his older brother, who was attacked with a racial slur by a broadcaster in Greece. 

Thanasis Antetokounmpo plays for Greek team Panathinaikos.

Last weekend, a broadcaster for a rival team referred to Thanasis with a racial slur after his Panathinaikos squad trounced them.


Καταρχάς Θανάση θέλω να σου ζητήσω συγνώμη γιατί ξέρω αυτό που θα πω θα τραβήξουν πολλά βλέμματα πάνω σου και πάνω μου και ξέρω είναι κάτι που δεν θες.. Αλλά είμαι σίγουρος αμα ήταν ο μπαμπάς εδώ θα ήταν πολύ απογοητευμένος αν κρατήσω την σιωπή μου. Έχω χάσει τον ύπνο μου τις τελευταίες μέρες για το αρνητικό-ρατσιστικό περιστατικό που έγινε πρόσφατα. Αν αυτό μπορεί να συμβεί στον Θανάση ο οποίος εκπροσωπεί με περηφάνεια και με ένα συνεχές χαμόγελο την Εθνική Ελλάδας και τον Παναθηναϊκό, δεν μπορώ να φανταστώ την περνάνε άλλοι έγχρωμοι στην Ελλάδα. Είμαι παρά πολύ λυπημένος και απογοητευμένος.. Αλλά δεν θα αφήσουμε τα αρνητικά σχόλια να αλλάξουν αυτη την οικογένεια και την αγάπη μας για την χώρα στην οποία μεγαλώσαμε. Εγώ και τα αδέρφια μου είμαστε Έλληνονιγηριανοι και σε όποιον αρέσει και θα συνεχίσουμε να εκπροσωπούμε και να μιλάμε με τα καλύτερα λόγια για την Πατρίδα μας. 🇬🇷🇳🇬 @thanasis_ante43 #MoreThanAnAthlete

A post shared by Giannis Antetokounmpo (@giannis_an34) on


“Above everything, Thanasis I want to apologize to you. Because I know that what I’ll write will attract attention to you, which is something I know you don’t want. However, I’m sure that if dad was here, he would be very disappointed if I chose to keep quiet. 

I’ve lost sleep the past days because of the racist incident which took place recently. If this could happen to Thanasis, who proudly represents the Greek National Team and Panathinaikos always having a smile, then I can’t imagine what happens to other people of color in Greece. I am deeply saddened and disappointed. 

However, we must not let negative comments alter our family and our love for the country, in which we grew up. I and my brothers are Greek/Nigerians and that’s it. We will continue to represent our home country in the best way possible."

Evan Zeppos, a Greek-American, as well as a Principal and Senior Public Affairs Advisor at Michael Best Strategies LLC, said he admired Giannis's response. 

"If you go to his biography on Twitter, and on Instagram, I think you’ll see that he talks about family and loyalty," Zeppos said. "What’s in his defense of his brother? Family and loyalty." 

"I just think that’s, to me, typically Greek," Zeppos said. "Because we have the phrase that blood is thicker than water, that’s how we look at things. So is it a surprise for Giannis to be defending his brother?  Absolutely not." 

Zeppos thinks there's a growing trend of athletes using their positions in the public eye to take a stand against social injustices, like racism.  

He said social media is one way they can effectively do that. 

"(Giannis) has close to five million followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook," Zeppos said. "So when he speaks, nearly five million people hear him speak." 

"Giannis can control that, completely, and communicate with five million people just like that," he added.