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Giannis defends older brother Thanasis after broadcaster's racial slur

Posted at 11:09 AM, Nov 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-17 12:09:46-05

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.

In an Instagram post in Greek, Giannis wrote, “To begin, I want to tell Thanasi I’m sorry because I know what I’m going to say will attract a lot of attention to him and to me, and I know that’s not what he wants. But I’m certain if our Dad was alive, he would be very  disappointed if I kept silent.”


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



“I’ve lost sleep the last few days because of the negative, racist, event that happened very recently. If that can happen to Thanasi, who represents the Greek national team with pride and with a constant smile, I can’t imagine what happens to other people of color in Greece,” the post continued. 

“I’m very sad and disappointed. But we’re not going to let negative comments change our family and our love of the country we grew up in,” Giannis wrote. 

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 added. "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.