MANILA, Philippines – From one Most Valuable Player to another.
Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted Kobe Bryant played a critical role in motivating him on his way to capturing his maiden NBA MVP award and becoming the first Greek player to achieve the feat.
In 2017, Bryant – a five-time champion and a one-time season MVP – dared Antetokounmpo to win the highest individual honor in the NBA.
MVP https://t.co/cjmWH5Mqyz — Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 27, 2017
Antetokounmpo completed that challenge two years later, leading the Milwauke Bucks to an NBA-best 60-22 record while averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals.
He dethroned James Harden of the Houston Rockets and bested Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"Kobe saying that I can be the MVP of this league, that should be my goal, that definitely motivated me and wanted to make me a better player," Antetokounmpo said.
"I think my motivation came, you know, after my dad passed away and after the support system that I had with my family. But definitely Kobe, he's the one that started the flame, definitely."
With Antetokounmpo ticking off an important milestone in his bucket list, Bryant issued another challenge. (READ: A global game: International players dominate NBA Awards 2019)
My man....M.V.P. Greatness. Next up: Championship. #MambaMentality https://t.co/dhZTFI1Aam — Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) June 25, 2019