Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo have come a long way, for sure. From being underappreciated, hard-working players to becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, they're 4 wins away from winning a ring.
But even if they look like best friends on the court now, it wasn't always like that. If anything, Giannis didn't care for Middleton or vice versa back in 2013, and they hated each other because they were fighting for minutes:
“You cannot imagine how hard we went at each other at practice,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic. “Like, I went home and when my family came, I was showing them the scratches I had on my arms. He used to come down and I’d grab him hard. And he’d push me off. I used to hate him. You know: ‘F*ck this motherf*cker. I’m going to take his f*cking minutes.’ “I hated playing against him and practicing against him because he was playing hard. And I was playing hard. And we’d always clash at each other.”
Middleton confirmed Giannis' story and added that their battles in practice were really tough. Notably, that also helped them be better:
“We hated each other on the court because we were fighting for minutes,” Middleton added. “Me and him were kind of in the same position. It was a battle every day in practice. We were making each other better, but we were really trying to get into that rotation and start playing.”
“We didn’t have a superstar,” Giannis said. “It was me, Khris. Jabari (Parker) had went down. So, it was me, Khris, and the rest. Rookie Thon (Maker), Rookie Malcolm (Brogdon). Delly (Mathew Dellavedova). So, we were picking each other up. That’s the year we clicked. We knew we gotta be like, ‘I have your back. You gotta have my back.’ ”
At the end of the day - and to their surprise - this pairing worked out perfectly. Giannis blossomed into one of the league's finest two-way players and Middleton is one of the most versatile guys in the league right now.
That should be an inspiration for young hoopers out there. Work harder than anybody else in practice to improve your game but also lift your teammates up when your team needs it.