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Hezonja to pay Covid fines after warm Panathinaikos welcome

Former NBA player Mario Hezonja said Friday he would “take care” of any fines after dozens of Panathinaikos fans ignored the Covid-19 lockdown to greet him at the airport.

The 26-year-old Croatian national team member arrived on Thursday at the start of a three-months deal with the Athens club and was impressed with the large fan turnout at the airport to greet him.

“I knew they were crazy but this is something else,” said Hezonja, who played for Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic.

“In the middle of a pandemic and they do this for me. I am forever grateful and I will give this gratitude back to them on the court. And if any of them get fined, I will take care of that too,” he added.

Anti-coronavirus rules in the country call for a 300 euro fine for each person in groups of more than nine, and the same amount for those not wearing protective masks.

But it seems that police at the airport turned a blind eye.

Before playing in the NBA from 2015 to 2020, Hezonja, who plays small forward or shooting guard, was a member of the Barcelona squad and the Greek club thanked the Catalans for facilitating the move.

“We would like to warmly thank the management of Barcelona for the excellent cooperation that contributed to the completion of the transfer,” Panathinaikos announced.

European giants Panathinaikos have won six EuroLeague titles, 38 Greek championships, 19 Greek Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.

This season the squad has a 10-2 record in the Greek league but is 15th in the 18-team EuroLeague with a 9-14 mark.

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