Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo probably doesn’t need a whole lot of basketball advice at this stage of his career. Prior to the NBA season coming to a halt on March 11, Antetokounmpo helped guide the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record. He was also the frontrunner for the MVP award again. Part of the Greek Freak’s success may have had to do with some advice given to him by Kobe Bryant a few years ago.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s success in the NBA
Giannis Antetokounmpo came into the NBA as a relatively unknown in 2013 when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th overall pick. He was a young, skinny kid from Greece with no major basketball exposure and it took him a little while to adjust to life in the NBA.
Antetokounmpo started slowly in his Milwaukee career, averaging 6.8 points per game in his rookie season. As the years went on, the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo bulked up, got stronger and improved his game. In each season since his rookie year, the Greek Freak has improved his scoring average.
In 57 games this season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds. Both of those numbers are higher than when he won the MVP award last season, despite playing almost two fewer minutes per game.
The Greek Freak is a workaholic
In 2018, Giannis Antetokounmpo was really putting in the work on and off the court. When he wasn’t on the basketball court, he was in the weight room. He began his career as a skinny 6-foot-9, 190-pound unknown talent from Greece. Five years later, he had bulked up 52 pounds and was listed as 6-foot-11.
Antetokounmpo incorporated boxing into his off-the-court workouts. In 2017, he made his first NBA All-Star team and he was also named the league’s Most Improved Player. His work ethic and determination to get better are like no other in the NBA.
“I consider myself an all-around player so I try to reflect that in what I do to prepare off the court,” Antetokounmpo said. “I love exercises that help improve all parts of my game to be a better player in all aspects of the game.”
Kobe Bryant’s advice to Antetokounmpo: ‘be a kid’
Back in 2018, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kobe Bryant had a workout together in the summer and the Greek Freak told Jim Paschke in an interview how the workout went. He said he went into the workout looking to try and improve his game and he figured the legendary Bryant could help him.
Antetokounmpo said Kobe told him to “always think outside the box and always be a kid,” and that seems to have surprised him. Antetokounmpo revealed that he told Kobe that one must be mature while playing and asked him how can one be a kid? To this, Bryant replied, “A kid uses his fantasy like you can see a kid being creative and playing. When you’re a kid, you always want to learn. You ask questions.”
Antetokounmpo said Bryant made him take between 300-400 shots. He wanted to let Bryant know he was serious about the workout and serious about getting better.
Antetokounmpo clarified, “I’m not here for no PR reasons. None of that. I’m here to get better. Simple as that. I think he understands that. And that’s why we both took that practice really, really serious. He was open about what he thinks about the game, what he thinks about me as a player and what he thinks about the Bucks.”