While the old cliche “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” might not be completely true, don’t tell Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak might be one of the NBA’s brightest stars, but he’s always pushing himself further. Recently, the young forward has taken inspiration from one specific source: LeBron James.
Antetokounmpo might be favored to beat LeBron to this year’s NBA MVP Award, but he still has a great deal of respect for King James. In fact, Giannis is taking strides to ensure he’s still thriving at age 35, too.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s NBA dominance
In 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the NBA draft. While scouts had some concerns about the forward’s shooting touch, his physical tools and pure potential were impossible to ignore.
Giannis began his NBA career as a lanky teenager, only averaging 6.8 points and 4.8. rebound per game as a rookie. With each passing season, however, he improved; before long, he had transformed into a ‘Greek Freak’ capable of doing virtually anything on the floor. Now that he’s added some outside shooting to his game, Antetokounmpo is pretty close to unguardable.
Last season, the forward took home the NBA MVP Award on the back of a 27.7 point, 12.5 rebound, 5.9 assist nightly average; this year, he’s posting even better numbers. The Bucks have already clinched a playoff spot, while Giannis himself makes NBA history with relative ease.
How is he learning from LeBron James?
Based on his talent levels, it would be easy for Giannis Antetokounmpo to rest on his laurels. The forward, however, is leaning in the opposite direction; he’s watching, and taking inspiration, from LeBron James’ continued success.
“It’s amazing. He’s 35 and playing at a high level,” Antetokounmpo explained. “He just leads the path for us.”
“A lot of times we think that, ‘OK, we’re going to retire at 35,’ but seeing a guy at 35 being still top-three best player in the world, that makes us want to be there,” Giannis continued. “Makes me want to be there one day, so I’ve got to keep taking care of my body, eating the right way, being healthy, and as I said—he paved the way, and hopefully we can just follow.”
Antetokounmpo might be young, but he’s already following in LeBron’s lead. The Bucks forward follows a strict pre and postgame routine, designed to help him withstand the grind of an NBA season.
Like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo has the right mindset for success
While talent is essential for professional success, any NBA fan can tell you that pure ability isn’t enough; plenty of can’t-miss prospects have flamed out before reaching the highest level. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, however, haven’t fallen into that trap.
With all respect to LeBron and his immaculate conditioning, he’s on the backend of his career. Giannis, on the other hand, only recently turned 25. If he’s playing this well now—and is already taking care of his body and focusing on longevity—it’s scary to think of what he can potentially accomplish before calling it quits.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has already established himself as a freakish NBA talent. His humility and willingness to learn, though, could be what propels him to the next level of greatness.