The leader of a far right (read: Neo-Nazi) Greek party verbally assailed Bucks’ rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo with a televised reference to a chimpanzee this week. Greece’s basketball federation reacted to the racist remarks with outrage. As described in the Associated Press story on NBA.com,
The federation on Thursday described the remarks aimed at Giannis Antetokounmpo as “unacceptable and racist.”
Antetokounmpo is an 18-year-old Greek shooting guard and the son of Nigerian immigrants.
Wait, Antetokounmpo is a shooting guard? I thought he was a small forward… or a point guard… or a point forward.
Just kidding. The real issue here is most obviously the reprehensible ignorance of the speaker, secretary general of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos. His remarks are shown below and a person familiar with the Greek language has told me that the subtitles in the video are a faithful translation into English.
It’s a stupid, shameful and hateful analogy, and the remarks aren’t worthy of the attention that they might drum up. Go away, Mr. Michaloliakos.
It obviously needs to be pointed out that the speaker’s views don’t reflect the majority of Greek opinion. Antetokounmbo returned to Greece after the NBA Draft and a brief visit to Milwaukee to prepare for international play with the Greek Under-20 team. He was greeted with a hero’s welcome that included the meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that was the topic of the TV segment. But the size of the Golden Dawn party has grown in recent years, spurred on by a flagging Greek economy. According to an April 2013 piece in Der Spiegel,
As recently as Greece’s October 2009 parliamentary election, Golden Dawn garnered just 0.29 percent of votes. But in the early election held last May, as well as in the subsequent new election in June, the right-wing extremist party suddenly received almost 7 percent of votes, securing 18 seats in the country’s parliament.
Polls now show the party holding 10 to 12 percent of voter support.
According to those numbers, the ignorance is growing. Sigh. But if justice is served, Antetokounmpo can disassociate himself from the unwarranted remark by overshadowing it with a long string of successes on and off the court.