Giannis Antetokounmpo on his nickname: 'You cannot tell me what I am'

2022-09-22 08:02

Giannis Antetokounmpo shared that he didn't like the Greek Freak nickname at first but has since learned to live with it. He is proud of being Nigerian and not just Greek. He tells his story is a new short film Naija Odyssey.

Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Partnered with WhatsApp, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo released a short film "Naija Odyssey" about his basketball journey.

Talking with ESPN about the film, Giannis explained his relationship with his most popular nickname - the Greek Freak.

"I've heard it so many times, it doesn't bother me but people don't call me the Nigerian Freak, they only call me the Greek Freak," the player said. "This is a time for people to understand that I'm both. I'm not just Greek, I'm Nigerian."

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis  Antetokounmpo
Position: PF, SF
Age: 27
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Birth place: Athens, Greece

Being a long, tall, athletic, and mobile big man, Antetokounmpo earned the nickname early on in his NBA career. He's learned to live with it.

"You cannot choose the nickname that the people give to you. What I can tell people is that I was born and raised in Greece, I understand the Greek culture, speak the language, know the history but at the end of the day, I know the same things about the Nigerian culture," Giannis explained. "I'm not just one thing, you cannot tell me what I am."

"I'm not going to lie - the first time I saw it, I kind of felt that way," he told when asked whether he first thought people were making fun of him calling him a freak. "Then I began to understand [the reason] why because I do things a lot of people cannot do. I understand the nickname, I like the nickname, I like being the Greek Freak but I'm also a Nigerian Freak. That's the end of it."

Giannis was born in Athens to Nigerian parents. With his parents struggling to make ends meet, the Antetokounmpo brothers would sell watches, handbags, and sunglasses in the streets. Besides, he had to deal with constant criticism of not being enough of either of the two cultures.

"Being in Greece, you're not Greek enough," he shared. "I know who I am, it's other people's opinion. When you're young, it might bother you."

"You're not Greek enough, there's no way, your parents are Nigerian, you don't have the same skin as us," Giannis told the stories he heard during his childhood. "Going to my Nigerian friends in the African neighborhood in Greece, [I would hear] 'you are not Nigerian enough, do you speak the language, do you understand Yoruba, do you understand Igbo', which I don't but it doesn't stand in the way of where I'm from."

Naija Odyssey ft. Giannis Antetokounmpo:



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