Isaiah Hartenstein Told Us His Dad Was Black, But Social Media Wants To See Receipts, Because “Bright Skin” “Above Light-Skinned” Is Not A Race

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein probably dropped a shocker on NBA fans, most of whom probably assumed he was white.

That false assumption, because of the way Hartenstein looks, was probably the driving force behind the conversation about his mixed race and overall unique journey. 

The rising New York Knicks player ended all of the speculation about how he racially identified on “The Roommates Show,” a podcast hosted by former Villanova and current Knicks teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

As soon as the show drops, Brunson asks the 25-year-old, “Let’s just jump right into it: Are you Black?”

Hart also wanted to know. 

“I really wanted to cover that,” Hart said. “I’m actually happy about this. Explain your Blackness or level of Blackness.”

That was not a bombshell, as Hartenstein has always stood on the fact that he’s of mixed race, but the general public just assumed he was white. Even his teammates.

Knicks Center Josh Hartenstein Is Mixed Race

“You know it’s, like, light skin? I’m bright skin. I’m above light-skinned,” Hartenstein answered with a laugh. “My dad is Black.”

Born in Eugene, Oregon, Hartenstein’s father, Florian Hartenstein, is a Black, German-American basketball coach and former professional basketball player. Isaiah’s mother is a white American from Oregon.

His parents met in the U.S. when Florian played for the University of Oregon. His father continued his basketball career overseas playing in a German pro league and moved the family there in 2008. 

The internet had a field day with Hartenstein’s response with some taking exception to the term “bright skin.”

Others remain very skeptical of Hartenstein’s assertion. 

Others were just uncomfortable altogether with the question. 

Really, Hartenstein is an example of how diverse and multi-dimensional and complex discussion of race can be. Not only is Hartenstein’s dad Black, but he’s German. 

Josh Hartenstein Born In Germany

Hartenstein, a talented 7-foot, 250-pound big man, who can stretch the opposing defenses, create plays and knocks down threes, was born in Eugene, Oregon, but spent a major part of his life in Germany while his dad pursued his hoop dreams and kept food on the table. 

Hartenstein says he quickly adapted to the German language and lifestyle after the family moved and with his father’s inspiration and genes, eventually blossomed into an impressive basketball player, who first played for Germany on its under-16 team in 2014.

He worked his way through a league in Lithuania to the All-NBA G League Team and G League Finals MVP in 2019. He didn’t just play in the G League, Hartenstein dominated, scoring 33 points and nailing eight 3-pointers in the series-clinching game for the 2018-19 NBA G League champions Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Eventually he made his way to the New York Knicks and the 26-year-old is now playing a pivotal role on a marquee squad on the rise. 

Hartenstein signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Knicks back in 2022 and has been playing more minutes in the absence of Julius Randle, averaging 6.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while dishing two assists per night for a Knicks squad that is fifth in the Eastern conference with a 44-31 record. 

Hart admitted he was shocked to learn that Hartenstein was mixed-race, and it was “crazy” to find that out. Although some Knicks fans claimed to have known already and say you can hear it in the way he speaks.

Hartenstein said the reaction was understandable, as his complexion leads many to believe he’s full white. Brunson and Hart’s podcast is gaining steam, and if they keep dropping gems like the episode with Hartenstein, which was light-hearted but tackled some real issues about how people identify skin color with a particular race, it will continue to grow in popularity. 

And Hartenstein, as he grows in popularity, may have created a new term when describing international ballers of mixed race, who don’t obviously appear to be Black in complexion. Cause that’s what he is right? “Bright skin.”

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