Antetokounmpo’s agent: The Greek federation president called Giannis a “leashed bear”

2018-09-18T18:32:43+00:00 2018-09-18T21:27:37+00:00.

Aris Barkas

18/Sep/18 18:32

There’s a huge gap between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greek basketball federation, as his Greek agent, Giorgos Panou revealed.

By Aris Barkas/

One day after the statements of Greek federation president, Giorgos Vasilakopoulos, about Giannis Antetokounmpo and his possible participation with the Greek national team in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, Giannis’ agent Giorgos Panou revealed that there’s a gap in the relationship between the Greek freak and the federation.

Vasilakopoulos said that “Giannis’ agents will decide if he will play in the World Cup. It’s a parasitic profession“. Panou, who was among the targets of this attack, answered while speaking to “Sport FM radio“: “I have to say that I speak for myself and not on behalf of Giannis. I know Giannis since he was 14 years old and I have to clarify some things about him because he never gave the right to anyone to present him as a marionette or a pawn. Mister Vasilakopoulos once more insults one of the top Greek players and presents him having no free will. The truth is the exact opposite. Last year the Federation attacked the Bucks, this year the problem is the agents. However two years ago Vasilakopoulos called without shame Giannis and his brother Thanasis to their faces “leashed bears” who were parading around Greece in the events that they organized themselves. That morning Giannis decided to stay silent, respecting the age and the mantle of the president. However, two people with such different perception of reality can’t co-exist. That’s why Giannis decided to announce himself that he was not able to play in Eurobasket 2017 due to his knee injury”. 

Trained “dancing” bears had been a part of the Balkan culture with roots going back to early Byzantine times, with Gypsies being their handlers who had a leashed on them. It was rural and cheap entertainment that lasted until the middle of the last century.

Meanwhile, after Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Eurobasket 2017 and the recent FIBA World Cup qualifiers, there are questions among the Greek public opinion about his loyalty to the national team.

Panou’s answer to that was the following: “Giannis decided to leave $106 million on the table waiting in the summer of 2016 and play in the pre-Olympic tournament. Why the “bad Bucks” didn’t prevent him from doing it? Giannis took a risk and he also took part of the blame for missing the qualification to 2016 Olympics. He signed his contract after the tournament. He waited until the last moment to get a Greek passport when he was 18 years old and the Greek federation did very little to help him. They made one failed effort and that was the end of it. Meanwhile, Nigeria was offering him a passport and Spain too (ed.note: Giannis was born in Athens, Greece, by illegal Nigerian immigrants and the Greek law did not automatically grant him citizenship). He decided to wait for his national team because that’s what he wanted. He did that when he was 18 years old. And now that he is one of Top 5 players in the NBA, he is presented to be manipulated by agents, his NBA team and sponsors. It’s simply unthinkable to make such a claim. Giannis feels that he owns to Greece, to his neighbors, to his friends who helped him when he was just a kid. All those persons are still around him. The Greek federation, however, and mister Vasilakopoulos can’t be identified with them. Giannis wants to be part of the Greek national team. And there’s no person in the world that can make him change his mind. Of course, he will answer the call and play in the FIBA World Cup. However, a personal relationship is about experiences and Giannis does not have the best of experiences with some of the gentlemen of the federation”. 

The Greek federation president Giorgos Vasilakopoulos answered with the following written statement: “In a time of great joy for Greek basketball, a process of announcements and answers does not offer good services to the sport. Let’s stick to the recent success of the national team, which some attempt to poison with falsehoods and lies. Let the protagonists enjoy it, and I think that in time we will solve any other issues we may have. Finally, some people who routinely take advantage of Greek basketball should leave it at peace“.