After an early exit in the playoffs and some epic playoff performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant, many are ready to proclaim that LeBron James is no longer the best player in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers star has spent the better part of a decade being widely considered the best in the world. He’s 36-years-old now and is coming off an injury-plagued year. It’s not a huge stretch to suggest that Giannis and/or Durant has surpassed him.
However, that may not be the case just yet. In fact, Giannis isn’t buying into the hype that he’s better than LeBron yet despite coming off a record-breaking championship run.
“I like being a hunter,” Antetokounmpo said, via Euro Hoops. “I am not the best player in the world. I am telling you, I am not. KD, LeBron, Kawhi [Leonard], Luka [Doncic], [Steph] Curry, [Anthony Davis] might be. I am not. I am still hunting the All-Time Greats. LeBron is still the best player in the world.”
Giannis has always been one of the more humble superstars. These comments could just be a way that he’s keeping himself motivated for the upcoming season. LeBron would never willingly give up the crown for best player in the world but Giannis is all too happy to pass off that label to somebody else.
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Giannis Doesn’t Want Success to Get to His Head
Giannis finally got the monkey off his back this year as he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship win over the Phoenix Suns. He’s only 26-years-old, which is very young for a player like him to win a title. He’s not content with just the one and is figuring out way to stay motivated.
“Don’t call me champ. If you hear only compliments, you relax and this is something I don’t want,” Antetokounmpo said. “I can’t be fake. I am Giannis. But calling me MVP, calling me champ, calling me the best player in the world, is something that might hold me back. And I don’t want anything holding me back. I want to look forward and be better.
“That’s why I don’t train with other players,” Antetokounmpo added. “I don’t want to be buddy with them. If we do this and then drink a coffee with them, can I go in the court and use my elbow against them? Can I block or dunk on them? I can’t cause I am authentic. If I love someone, I love him also on the court. I am fully aware of that and I don’t want to put myself in this position.”
Rob Pelinka Says LeBron Has ‘Slimmed Up’
At this stage in his career, LeBron has nothing left to prove. He’s won four championships and should become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer this season. However, he’s still finding ways to stay motivated. All the talk that he’s no longer the best in the world is clearly struck a chord with him. According to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, LeBron is lean and ready to have a big season.
“I think the thing that stands out is just his fitness level,” Pelinka said of LeBron. “He’s slimmed up. And we all know LeBron studies the greats, and he adds things into his game, and I think going into this stage of his career, he’s made a decision to come back a little bit leaner, and I think that’s gonna translate in his explosiveness and quickness.”