— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 26, 2016
Obama didn’t hold it against Antetokounmpo, lauding the 21-year-old’s development during a speaking engagement on Tuesday at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece. “Greek or American, we’re all cheering for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who seems to be getting better each year,” said Obama, who, like most of us, struggled to pronounce the young Buck’s name.
The slip-up drew more laughter than Antetokounmpo’s joke back in September. For the record, the Greek Freak’s full name is pronounced “YAHN-iss ah-deh-toh-KOON-boh,” per the NBA’s pronunciation guide. To his credit, Obama didn’t botch it nearly as bad as Chicago Bulls commentator Stacey King:
But given the president’s skills as an orator, his hesitation while enunciating Antetokounmpo leaves absolutely no hope for those of us who can’t pronounce Rajon Rondo’s name correctly 11 years into his NBA career, especially since Obama met Giannis back in April and still can’t quite nail the landing.
Here's Obama comparing hands with Giannis, which is presumably now Trump's greatest fear in life. pic.twitter.com/0uWdyzuPa3
— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) April 3, 2016
Obama was in Greece as part of his final European trip as President of the United States, during which he has on several occasions spent his speaking time ensuring foreign leaders the U.S. will remain equally as committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization under President-elect Donald Trump.
It is perhaps coincidence, then, that Antetokounmpo also found himself speaking to the foreign press on Tuesday. On a global media conference call, he was asked about the worldwide negativity toward immigration and how vital it is for people “to give chances to immigrants and not be so judgmental.”
“It’s really important,” said Antetokounmpo. “I was an immigrant. I was in Greece. They gave us a chance, and that helped a lot. I think what we have to do is not be so negative and judgmental, as you said, and just be positive and just help around because, at the end of the day, we are people. You know what I mean? And we’ve just got to help one another.”
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So, the next time someone struggles to say Antetokounmpo, help them out. Tell them it’s OK, because President Obama struggled with it, too. And if we can learn to get it right, that’s change to believe in.
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