Giannis Antetokounmpo entered the NBA in 2013 and, like everyone else, had his "Welcome to the NBA" moments. Carmelo Anthony once tried to punk him, and how the Greek Freak responded hinted there was greatness inside him.
“I respect him.”
Antetokounmpo revealed that Carmelo Anthony once tried to play mind games with him and his Milwaukee Bucks teammates. In 2014, Giannis was still a young Buck, and his team wasn’t a powerhouse. Meanwhile, Melo was still at his peak then and even became an All-Star while playing for the New York Knicks.
Anthony thought the young fella would back down, but Antetokounmpo had heard enough. He decided to take the matter into his own hands and tested his mettle by guarding one of the league’s most potent scorers.
“I don’t know, I respect him, and he’s one of the best players. But he can come out insulting, bullying my teammates and me, talk to me all the time, saying stuff, so I try to not react but, you’ve to respect him. But if he do it all night, you can’t focus on your game, so you have to respond, and tell him something to stop.”
It was the kid’s first taste of what it’s like to guard someone on such a high level. The Knicks came away with the win, but Giannis took home important lessons after the game.
Antetokounmpo’s transformation to becoming one of the best
Years later, Giannis Antetokounmpo has risen to become one of the best talents in the NBA. At just 27 years old, he has already accomplished Hall-of-Fame-worthy accomplishments, and the scary thing is he’s not even done and is just entering his prime.
Giannis went from weighing 190 pounds in his rookie year to 242 pounds in 2022. The changes in skillset and body were needed to get to the next level. He is now more confident, absorbing contacts as he barrels his way to the paint. Even his perceived weakness, free throw and outside shooting, has been rectified to a point where defenders must respect his attempts.
Without the lessons Anthony and other veterans gave when he was still starting, the Athens native might not have become the player he is today. Sometimes, roughhousing is needed to become self-aware and improve what needs to be improved. In the case of Giannis Antetokounmpo, he should probably thank Melo Anthony for taking him to school that one fateful night in 2014.