Giannis Antetokounmpo, the son of Nigerian immigrants and the fifteenth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft (selected by the Milwaukee Bucks), has found himself at the center of a controversy sparked by racist remarks made by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party in Antetokounmpo’s native country of Greece. During an interview on Tuesday, Michaloliakos referred to the 6-foot-9 Antetokounmpo as “a chimpanzee.”
Greece’s basketball federation has spoken out again Michaloliakos’ uncalled for comments, calling them both “unacceptable and racist.” That such slurs would come from a member of the Golden Dawn party is not exactly surprising, though. Prime Minister Samaras has in the past referred to the Golden Dawn party as “neo-Nazis,” an appellation which the party leaders reject (although past members have expressed doubt regarding the validity of the Holocaust and have expressed praise for Adolf Hitler).
Despite being decried by the Prime Minster, the Golden Dawn party has been slowly gaining power in the Greek political system. The party won 18 seats last year during the elections and is, according to some political polls, the third-strongest party in the country.
Prime Minster Samaras has expressed his unyielding support of Antetokounmpo. In a meeting with the 18-year-old basketball star, he said:
I thank you for honoring our national colors. I hope you drive them crazy with your slam-dunks … All of Greece is so excited for you.