Tonight will go down as the night as Giannis Antetokounmpo completed the NBA. At the age of 26, Giannis has accomplished nearly all the major accolades that a top player in the NBA. After becoming an All-Star, two-time MVP, Defensive Player Of The Year, and an All-Star game MVP, Giannis is now an NBA Champion and Finals MVP. Antetokounmpo has had one of the most meteoric rises in NBA history. When few people believed he could become the superstar that he is now, Kobe Bryant challenged him because he believed in him. And tonight, Giannis has delivered on that challenge.
In 2017, Kobe Bryant challenged Giannis Antetokounmpo to win an MVP title. And when he won the MVP trophy in 2019, Kobe upped the ante on his challenge - telling him to win an NBA championship. And now, Giannis has delivered again. During the press conference after Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a reporter asked Antetokounmpo how he feels about fulfilling the challenge that Kobe set for him. He noted that initially, he approached Kobe for a challenge as a joke. But when Kobe responded with the challenge to become MVP, it instilled confidence into Giannis. Bryant believed in him, and he wanted to repay the faith that Kobe and several others had in him by delivering on his potential.
“It means a lot. This started almost as a joke at first. He was in a Nike ad, and I think he was sending challenges to players…I was like ‘Let me just shoot my shot.’ - “What’s my challenge?”. And he was like “MVP”. At first, I was like joking, I didn’t think he was going to respond to me. When he did, he made me believe. I was like ‘Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this. I can play at the highest level and lead my team and win an MVP?’ I had to do it. I had to work hard. Not necessarily to not let him down, I had to work hard because people believed I could do it.”
Even though Giannis has done it all, he is far from finished in the NBA. He and the Milwaukee Bucks will now move into the new season looking to run it back. If Antetokounmpo continues to grow as a player going forward, there is no ceiling on what he can accomplish in the NBA.