Lakers’ LeBron James earns raves from Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘Makes me want to be there one day’


You can count reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo among those that are extremely impressed with how well Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James is playing in his 17th season in the NBA. On the season, James, 35, is averaging 25.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and a league-leading 10.7 assists per game. His play has propelled the Lakers to the top of the standings in the Western Conference, and has also made him Antetokounmpo’s chief competition for this season’s MVP Award. 

“It’s amazing. He’s 35 and playing at a high level,” Antetokounmpo said of James, ahead of the second meeting of the season between the Bucks and Lakers on Friday. “He just leads the path for us. A lot of times we think that, ‘OK, we’re going to retire at 35,’ but seeing a guy at 35, being still top-three best player in the world, that makes us want to be there. Makes me want to be there one day, so I’ve got to keep taking care of my body, eating the right way, being healthy, and as I said — he paved the way, and hopefully we can just follow.”

James has redefined what late career success can look like, and younger players like Antetokounmpo have clearly taken note of James’ blueprint, which includes remaining in tip-top physical shape at all times, and going the extra mile (or 10) in order to do so. While James is one-of-a-kind, Antetokounmpo certainly has the drive and determination to build a similarly long and productive career. Hopefully he can have similar good fortune when it comes to avoiding major injury issues also, as that has also been crucial to James’ longevity.  

One thing that has helped James to survive the test of time is his willingness to work on and improve various areas of his game. People used to question his ability to space the floor and now he pulls up from just inside halfcourt with ease. Antetokounmpo shows a similar eagerness to improve. Shortly after he won the MVP Award, Antetokounmpo admitted that there was still plenty of room for improvement in his game. In fact, he went as far as to say that he thought he had only reached 60 percent of his potential as a player. 

“There’s a lot of things I can improve on,” Antetokounmpo said. “First of all, [I have to] look at myself before I look at anybody else. Try to self-improve as much as possible. There are a lot of things that I got to work on in my game… A lot of people say, ‘You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant. But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better, react better, play the game better, play better, execute better.”

It’s not too often that you hear an MVP candidate openly admit to being amazed by another candidate’s production, but James is an exception. Considering how long he’s been at it, all of the players in the league today are impressed by how dominant he still is, even ones as good as Antetokounmpo. James has raised the bar, and inspired his peers in the process. 





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