Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was handed the opportunity to work out with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Carmelo Anthony during the summer, yet he turned down the invite.
The 24-year-old is having a monster season and is a frontrunner in the race for MVP. He's also the prime reason for the Bucks' dominance this term.
Antetokounmpo's performances over the years have made him an interesting study and players have invited him to join them for conversations, pickup games, and camps. He's turned them all down as he doesn't want his brains picked by rivals whom he will be playing against during an NBA campaign.
This past summer, the aforementioned stars headed to New York to play pickup basketball at an event run by trainer Chris Brickley. Anthony reached out to Giannis, but the player rebuffed the invite despite hardly being shy about naming Durant and James as his icons.
“They wanted me to come, show up, and play and I was like, ‘No. I’m good. Thank you,’ ” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic in an interview.
“I can’t work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic. “It feels weird. It doesn’t feel right with me. Like other players, it’s cool for other players, but I don’t. I don’t want to. Other guys do it.
“I hate that. I don’t want (opponents) to see me to be buddy buddy with me.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo rejected invites from LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. 👀 pic.twitter.com/UTQr39lcoz— theScore (@theScore) December 8, 2018
Instead, the player chose to work out with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, something he wouldn't even think of had Bryant still been an active player.
Ordinarily, the forward trains with his teammates and Bucks personnel in the summer. This time around, though, he sought wisdom from the Mamba.
Antetokounmpo and Durant aren't all that close and they only began exchanging texts after his Bucks beat the Golden State Warriors last month. He doesn't have any sort of relationship with LeBron, though, yet remains open to working out with him - as long as it's just him.
“If it’s just me and him,” he said after being asked whether it's possible he works out with James in future. “Just me and him. I cannot do the pickup games and stuff like that.
“I feel like with LeBron and KD, KD did that to LeBron. Take a lot of his thoughts and use it against him. And that’s what I don’t want guys doing to me.”
Durant, though, doesn't get it.
“I’ve never understood that,” the Warriors star says. “We already got all the film on you anyway.”
What This Means
It's sort of refreshing to know that some of the game's current stars have an old-school mentality.
The NBA is hardly about bitter, entertaining rivalries anymore - and it's unlikely it ever reverts. But such an attitude from Giannis, however wrong it may rub some people, does make sense.