You don’t need any more reasons to fall in love with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he’s about to give you one.
The always-fantastic Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated penned a strong profile on the Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar, and while the entire piece is worthy of multiple reads, the story of what Antetokounmpo did the first time head coach Jason Kidd benched him demands your immediate eye:
The first time Kidd benched him, Antetokounmpo was irate. “I was like, ‘Let’s see what this guy did in his career, anyway,’?” Antetokounmpo recounts, and called up Kidd’s bio on his phone. “I saw Rookie of the Year, NBA championship, USA Olympic gold medal, second in assists, fifth in made threes, blah, blah, blah. I was like, ‘Jesus freaking Christ, how can I compete with that? I better zip it.’?”
This is just glorious.
It seems listening to Kidd, however, is paying off for Antetokounmpo. He leads the Bucks in assist percentage but is also second on the team in shots defended at the rim. And in addition to pacing the team in all five major statistical categories, Antetokounmpo’s per-game production has never been matched by anyone else in NBA history, according to Basketball-Reference.
What Giannis is doing in Milwaukee, at only 22 years of age, remains absurd. He is growing into a perennial MVP candidate—the type of player who should, in time, turn the Bucks into an Eastern Conference power.
No matter what happens next, though, we should always remember that, at one point, he was just a 20-something project, trying to figure out why the person charged with his macro development was chaining him to the pine.