Giannis Antetokounmpo has been one of the most exciting foreign players in NBA history. Carrying on the strong legacy of players like Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon, and other big men from outside of the US, Giannis has now become an NBA champion just like them.
Antetokounmpo got his beginnings in the basketball world in Greece, where he was born and raised. Because of this, Giannis has been dubbed 'The Greek Freak'. But despite Giannis representing Greece on the national and international level, he doesn't consider himself part of the country's culture and heritage.
In an interview with The Undefeated, Giannis addressed his heritage. Being born and raised in Greece, he represents them on the international stage at tournaments such as FIBA and the Olympics. However, that is the extent to his participation in Greek culture. Antetokounmpo was born in Greece but to Nigerian parents.
So whenever he went back home, his upbringing was more rooted in the Nigerian culture and heritage because of his parents. They were a lot more strict with him and commanded respect from Giannis and his brothers Kostas and Thanasis whenever they spoke.
“Obviously, a lot of people don’t know where I’m from. A lot of people think my mom or my dad are from Greece, but no. Both of my parents are black. Both of my parents are Nigerian...I grew up in a Nigerian home. Obviously, I was born in Greece and went to school in Greece. But at the end of the day when I go home, there is no Greek culture. It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline, it’s about respecting your elders, having morals.”
While Antetokounmpo still goes with his Greek nationality, he puts more weight in his Nigerian heritage and upbringing. That isn't to say that he doesn't appreciate his Greek origins, but he tries to create a distinction between his nationality and heritage.