Every February, the NBA hosts a weekend of festivities during the middle of the NBA regular season that consists of a variety of basketball events(including most prominently, the slam dunk contest, a 3 point contest, a celebrity all-star game amongst others), performances, and the main event of an exhibition match consisting of the league’s best twenty-four players cut across the two conferences. The 2022 All-Star weekend took place in Cleveland, Ohio between the 18th-20th of February.
Last night, one of the defining looks of the night came from Milwaukee Bucks and Greek-Nigerian power forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo as he emerged for the game wearing a hoodie with +234 emblazoned around his midriff and “Adetokunbo” behind.
What’s the significance of this?
The most obvious point to note is that pays homage to Antetokounmpo’s Nigerian heritage. Antetokounmpo is a Hellenicised version of his last name “Adetokunbo” denoting his Nigerian origin. His parents migrated from Nigeria to Greece in the early 90s. However, owing to Greek nationality rules which denote that citizenship can only be derived through the ethnicity of either parent Giannis whose other names include Sina and Ugo held no citizenship to his name. However, as he started to excel at basketball it became imperative to secure a passport culminating in the issuance of Greek citizenship two months before the NBA’s 2013 draft. In order to comply with Greek transliteration, his last name then switched from Adetokunbo to Antetokounmpo. He was also able to successfully get a Nigerian passport in 2015.
The hoodie was the result of a collab between Nigerian-American fashion brand, Post-Imperial and messaging platform, WhatsApp. This look formed part of the roll out for WhatsApp’s announcement of a longterm deal with Antetokounmpo as its first ever Global Brand Partner. The agreement is the first celebrity endorsement deal for WhatsApp whichs intends to collaborate with Antetokounmpo on content, events and community outreach, taking effect from last night’s All-Star Game. He also spoke of the importance of the platform particularly in the context of its utility for families divided by geographical borders saying
“My family has always relied on WhatsApp to stay connected across the world. My relationship with WhatsApp, and now my partnership, is such an important part of who I am. We talk for hours, share our ups and downs, and of course, tell tons of jokes 😁. But this isn’t just my story. Together, WhatsApp and I want to shine a light on the millions of us across time zones doing all we can to stay connected with the people who mean everything to us.”
The +234 is designed to allude to Nigeria’s +234 dialing code and Antetokounmpo’s jersey number(34) hence the difference in the colors with +2 in green and 34 in black.
The WhatsApp logo is also placed towards the bottom of the hoodie.
Adetokunbo is also emblazoned on the back indicating pride in his Nigerian origin.
It’s yet to be seen if the hoodie will wind up being sold either as a single item or as part of a capsule collection or is just a prototype.