Greek Professor in UK Says Hoop Star Antetokounmpo Not Greek

FILE - Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots off-balance against LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Echoing cries from racial slurs against another Greek basketball star with African heritage, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, a Greek professor said to be working for University College London said Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Greek citizen whose parents migrated from Nigeria, is not really Greek.

Evangelos Markopoulos caused a stir on social media in Greece when he commented below a post in a video showing Antetokounmpo singing the Greek national anthem that the basketball player was “a black guy pretending to be Greek.”

He said he was fed up with Antetokounmpo, who didn’t play for the Greek national team that was subsequently bumped out of the European tournament after he said he had a knee injury, which the country’s sports federation suggested was dubious and that he was trying to protect his career in his new home of Milwaukee.

Even though Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically qualify to receive full Greek citizenship and almost until draft day – where he waved a big Greek flag – he wasn’t a citizen of either Greece or Nigeria, a stateless man.

It was a prejudice faced by Schortsanitis, born to a Greek father and Cameroonian mother, a 6-10, 345-lb. basketball behemoth who was a key player on the 2006 Greek national team that stunned the United States team – with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony – and got to the final before losing to Spain.

The xenophobic Golden Dawn, instead of joining in a celebration of Schortsanitis’ talent and the glory he brought his homeland – it’s his just as much theirs – declared he was a “non-Greek,” which wasn’t true but still better than being non-humans like them.

Elias Panagiotaros, Golden Dawn’s troglodyte spokesman in 2012, put it this way: “We don’t think that Schortsanitis is Greek, according to the ideals of the Greek race. He is not Greek. Both of his parents should be Greek and belong to the European race.”