‘I’m Not just Greek, I’m Nigerian’ Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted that while he first disliked the moniker “Greek Freak,” he has since come to terms with it. Instead of just being Greek, he is glad to be Nigerian. In the brand-new short film Naija Odyssey, he narrates his story.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, a top player for the Milwaukee Bucks, collaborated with WhatsApp to make the basketball adventure documentary “Naija Odyssey.”

In an interview about the film with ESPN, Giannis discussed his connection with his most well-known moniker, 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.”

Antetokounmpo acquired the moniker early in his NBA career because to his physical attributes as a long, tall, agile, and mobile big man. He has adapted to living 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 replied 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 to Nigerian parents in Athens. The Antetokounmpo brothers would hawk watches, purses, and sunglasses on the streets to help support their poor parents. In addition, he often faced criticism for not embodying enough 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 related 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.”

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