With everything he achieved in his young career, Giannis Antetokounmpo could stake his claim as the next face of the NBA - but he’s not interested in that. In an interview with GQ, the Milwaukee Bucks leading man revealed what makes him different from your typical NBA superstar.
Giannis keeps signed jerseys of NBA rivals
Antetokounmpo does not hang out with the opposing team’s players nor train with them in the summer. It’s a personal choice that enables him to maintain a competitive boundary with his rivals. This “me against the world” type of mentality is reminiscent of the killer mentality of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. With this way of thinking, Giannis exhibits the old-school vibes fans have grown to love.
“I can’t work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months. It feels weird. It doesn’t feel right with me. It’s cool for other players, but I don’t want to.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Athletic
Despite the competitive nature that the Greek Freak has, Giannis revealed he idolizes the players he competes against on the court. In a GQ story written by Zach Baron, the 26-year-old shared his collection of signed jerseys from NBA rivals such as Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Luka Dončić, among others. But his most prized possession came from LeBron James.
“A lot of people think that I have beef with James Harden, which is not true. This right here is from Luka Dončić, the wonder boy. Anthony Davis. L.A., you know him. Jokić. I love the game! Oh, this is mine from this year. This is from the MVP I won. The All-Star MVP. Bradley Beal. Damian Lillard. Derrick Rose. I love Derrick Rose. LeBron James, man. Look! Look what he wrote for me.”
Giannis Antetokpunmpo, GQ
James’ message to Antetokounmpo, which ended with a drawing of a crown, is the kind of message a generational star would give to the next generational star. Call it passing of the torch or inspiring the next young ones to strive for greatness but the message resonated with the 2-time MVP, calling it “big time.”
What makes Giannis Antetokounmpo special
Giannis is not your typical NBA star. He’s not out there to make friends, but he’s also appreciative of other players using them as motivation and inspiration. After winning the NBA title, he was seen the following day ordering chicken nuggets at Chik-fil-A. No grand celebrations, no events, just an NBA champion wanting to eat fast food as a reward.
His rise to superstardom did not happen overnight. The climb has been slow but steady, from being the breakout star favorite in 2016 to an MVP favorite. The humility and maturity displayed by the Greek Freek make him a rarity among NBA’s young stars today.
Giannis is not stopping here. As James’ noted on the signed jersey, the sky is the limit for him. If Antetokounmpo maintains this level of focus, winning a few MVPs or more titles in the future is not a question of how but when.