Milwaukee bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first NBA title on Tuesday night, and he was also named Finals MVP. Afterward, he talked about finally completing the two challenges issued to him by late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Back in 2017, Bryant challenged the up-and-coming Antetokounmpo to win an MVP award. It took two years, but Antetokounmpo won the first of back-to-back MVPs in 2019. At that point, Bryant issued a second challenge: win a championship.
It again took two years, but Antetokounmpo has now crossed that championship off of his list, too, and Bryant's confidence in him was apparently a major motivator for Antetokounmpo along the way.
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"It started almost like a joke at first," Antetokounmpo said of seeking a challenge from Bryant. "He was in I think a Nike ad and he was sending challenges to players... and I was like 'let me just shoot my shot'... And he was like 'MVP.' But at first, I was like joking, I didn't think he was going to respond to me. But when he did, he made me believe. I'm like, 'Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this? I can play at a high level and lead my team and win MVP.' I had to do it.
"I had to work hard. And not necessarily not to let him down. I had to work hard because people believed that I could do it, and that's the thing. I'm a people pleaser. I don't like letting people down. When I re-signed with Milwaukee, that's the main reason I re-signed, because I didn't want to let the people down and think that I don't work extremely hard for them, which I do. But to be able to accomplish those things in this period of time is crazy. It's unreal. I can't believe it."
You can see Antetokounmpo's full comments on Bryant below:
In addition to completing both of the challenges issued to him by Bryant, Antetokounmpo also joined the Lakers legend in the exclusive club of players who have won both a regular season MVP award and a Finals MVP award. Only 17 players have done so in league history. Given his previous support, it's safe to say that Bryant would be very proud to see all that Antetokounmpo has been able to accomplish.