“Don’t call me champ. If you hear only compliments, you relax and this is something I don’t want,” Antetokounmpo said recently, via Euro Hoops. “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.”
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Antetokounmpo wants to remain in the mindset of the hunter, as opposed to the hunted. As such, he doesn’t view himself as the best basketball player in the world. To him, that title still belongs to Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.
“I like being a hunter,” Antetokounmpo said. “I am not the best player in the world. I am telling you, I am not! KD, LeBron, Kawhi, Luka, Curry, AD might be. I am not. I am still hunting the All-Time Greats. LeBron is still the best player in the world.”
Antetokounmpo may not view himself as the best player in the world, but after his play last season he’s certainly in the conversation — whether he likes it or not.