Giannis Antetokounmpo has become one of the faces of NBA basketball. While his journey to greatness can be credited to hard work and natural talent, it didn't come without some help along the way.
As the Greek Freak shared in a chat with Marc Spears of The Undefeated, he received some valuable wisdom during his rookie season from Dikembe Mutombo, who emphasized the importance of self-care.
“I knew who he was,” said Antetokounmpo. “He came and approached me. Huge guy. He said: ‘You got to make sure you take care of your body. You have to make sure you are coachable. You have to make sure you ice. You have to make sure you sleep.’ He was giving me advice on how I was going to prolong my career in the league. He said, ‘A lot of people come into the league with great talent but they don’t last long. They’re not healthy. The average of being in the NBA is four years. How do you beat that?’ That’s the first step. He said never leave the arena or practice facility without icing your knees and ankles and take care of your body. Since then, I’ve done it every single day.”
Mutombo was right, and it may be part of the reason Giannis has worked his way to the top of the food chain.
Despite what it may seem, a lot of players only last for a few years before they're out of the NBA entirely. A lot of that has to do with how their body breaks down after so many games.
Giannis has been fortunate enough to preserve his health and durability so far. Through 8 years in the NBA, he's averaging 29.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game on 54.8% shooting.