MILWAUKEE -- Hundreds of Milwaukee Bucks fans packed the plaza outside Fiserv Forum on Sunday afternoon, some arriving hours in advance to ensure they got a front-row seat for a celebration in honor of the 2018-19 NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The second their hero appeared on stage, the assembled crowd was quick to serenade him with the familiar "M-V-P!" chants that had echoed through the new arena all season long. But the reigning MVP was quick to flip the script on the crowd, asking them, as a favor, to not call him MVP anymore -- at least not until he wins the award again.
"After this day, July 14, please, please, please do me this favor so I can be better, I can be a better player, I can lead this team to a championship," Antetokounmpo said. "Don't call me MVP. Listen, please, after this day don't call me MVP until I win it again next year."
Even the humble superstar couldn't help himself, though, asking for one more chant from his adoring fans.
This may seem like a strange request, but Antetokounmpo's reasoning makes sense. He's always striving to be a better player, and doesn't want the constant validation from everyone around him. If he's always being told he's the best player, it would be tougher, on some level, to find the same level of motivation that he had when he wasn't recognized.
Antetokounmpo expanded on the idea during a press conference after the event with local media.
"I get mad when my girlfriend says, 'You know you're really good, you're one of the best,'" he said. "I'm like, 'No, I'm not' because whenever that happens I relax. I am a person where whatever I do, I do it 100 percent. If I am lazy, I am lazy 100 percent. I don't want to relax a bit because I'm not done yet. I want to be for multiple years the best player in the league."
Plus, as he and Bucks fans know too well, the team fell short of its ultimate goal of a championship. The individual honor is nice, but as Antetokounmpo told the crowd before he walked off the stage, "let's go get the big trophy now."
It's hard to imagine that Bucks fans will oblige his requests, and once next season begins, there will again be "M-V-P!" chants ringing around Fiserv Forum. That's to be expected, though, and even Antetokounmpo can't expect fans to follow through.
What really matters, is the mind-set that led Antetokounmpo to make the request in the first place. It shows he's not satisfied, and is trying to use any source of motivation he can find to make him and his team better.