In his postgame availability on Saturday, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo contrasted the experience of being a Black man in America with his native Greece. The reigning NBA MVP also noted the increased threat of violence that African Americans face in the United States.
“Two different cultures. My culture … I was never scared for my life,” Antetokounmpo said. “Walking down the street, I was never scared that something might happen to me. Spending seven years here and my brother growing up here…it's tough. People are scared to walk in the street, because of the color of your skin. You're scared for your life.”
I asked Giannis about racism in Greece and how he learned about the experience of Black Americans. pic.twitter.com/UAhINB7OLn
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 29, 2020
Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted he was “definitely surprised” to see the state of racial relations when he arrived in America, and he recalled a telling piece of advice he received from Caron Butler — who only played 34 games for the Bucks in 2013-14 but evidently made a lasting impact on Antetokounmpo.
“Over here is different — you gotta be careful…Caron Butler told me that when you walk down the street, take off your hoodie. I was like ‘Why? Why should I take off my hoodie?' He was like, ‘Just take off your hoodie.' That was my rookie year,” the Bucks forward shared.
“I didn't understand it then, but I understand it now. Hopefully, now, I can keep on educating myself even more.”
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on learning about race in America as a rookie: “Over here is different. You’ve got to be careful. Caron Butler told me when you walk down the street, take off your hoodie. I was like, ‘Why?’I didn’t understand it then. I understand it now.” pic.twitter.com/rRvKjQooV3
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 29, 2020
Antetokoumpo also spoke on his fears as a new father raising a child in America's heated racial climate.
“Things outta change. I just became a dad a few months ago…It's scary to raise a son here and have a family. It's scary. I don't feel like I should be scared at any moment that that something could happen to them,” Giannis added.
The Greek Freak said he'll continue having conversations with his coaches and teammates to better educate himself on navigating life as a Black person in the United States.
After refusing to take the floor on Wednesday, the Bucks closed out their first-round series with a 118-104 Game 5 victory over the Orlando Magic. The 2020 Defensive Player of the Year notched 28 points and 17 rebounds.